Montreat College Women's Track & Field TeamMontreat College was selected as the winner of the NAIA’s 2014 Buffalo Funds Five Star Champions of Character Team Award for women’s track & field, the NAIA announced last Tuesday afternoon at its annual Hall of Fame Luncheon. Montreat’s women’s track & field team was chosen from the NAIA’s national pool of 255 member institutions.

The Five Star Champions of Character Team Awards are presented at the end of the season for each of the NAIA’s 23 championship sports. According to award guidelines, teams that receive this prestigious award demonstrate integrity, respect, responsibility, sportsmanship and servant leadership. These institutions and athletic programs strive for excellence in and out of competition and are part of communities throughout the country dedicated to character-driven intercollegiate athletics.

“Our team loves each other and we’re focused on competing well and being leaders on campus,” said women’s track & field captain, Brooke Alexander. “Having that common goal, a common thread outside of just running fast, helps our team to stay together throughout the season. Athletics is just a small part of what we do and we know we can have a bigger impact on our campus and in our community if we remain committed to servant leadership.”

Following a team mission to be dedicated to servant leadership, the team captains have found ways to serve in the community by partnering with charities and organizations, including external service days with the Salvation Army, Least of These Homeless Ministry, Black Mountain Presbyterian Home for Children, the Race of Awesome, One Fund, the Asheville Marathon, Owen High School, Friends of the Parkway, Black Mountain Primary School, and the Mount Mitchell Challenge.

The women’s track & field team’s Champions of Character Award is the second character-based honor awarded to Montreat athletics this month. On May 12, two-time All-Conference long-sprinter Jordan Lukacena was named the Appalachian Athletic Conference’s 2013-14 Male Champion of Character.  According to Montreat track & field coach Justin Herbert, these kinds of awards aren’t a coincidence.

“For us, track and field isn’t just a sport, it is a platform for our athletes to impact their campus and their community,” said Herbert. “We serve Jesus and we seek to maintain a reputation of excellence both on and off the track. By being committed to displaying excellent character and servant leadership, we hope to use our sport as a way to lead inside of our campus community, to develop and grow excellent role models, and to spread the Gospel.”