By Chris Slone
PDT Sports Editor
In sports, winning and losing are often portrayed as the most important aspects of life. Often lost in the conversation is the character of the athletes, the coaches, and the universities or communities those teams represent.
However, occasionally, one of the most forgotten traits in life gets displayed in the spotlight.
Shawnee State University’s Men’s Soccer Coach Ron Goodson has the opportunity to be recognized for his ongoing commitment to instill character in the lives of his players. Goodson has been nominated for the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Coach of Character Award.
“It is a real honor to be nominated, and picked by our conference and my university,” Goodson said.
Each school in the Mid-South Conference nominates one coach who displays the qualities and values instilled in the Champions of Character award. Once each coach is selected, the conference nominates the most deserving individual for the award.
The Champions of Character initiative by the NAIA deals with core values and perspectives such as responsibility, leadership, sportsmanship and integrity.
Shawnee Athletic Director Jeff Hamilton believes Goodson is the right ambassador of the award.
“Ron, as our men’s soccer coach, does a tremendous job of promoting those values,” Hamilton said. “We are fortunate enough to have him on staff and we feel strong enough to nominate him as somebody who sets a great example for college coaching, the way Shawnee State and the NAIA feels and prioritizes what athletics is all about.”
The annual award is given to a head coach of an NAIA institution who has embraced the core values of the NAIA Champions of Character initiative, by teaching character through athletics and in the community through volunteering.
While humbled by the award, Goodson knows the imitative is vital for student-athletes.
“It’s an honor, but if we teach better character and teach them to be better students, then we don’t have to worry about them getting in trouble and having academic issues,” Goodson said. “There will be less distractions, which will lead to better play on the field.”
It’s difficult for an athlete to get proper recognition for doing things the right way, but one mistake and the spotlight can be overwhelming.
“I personally think it’s very important and obviously it’s a whole lot easier to get recognized for negative things as opposed to positive things,” Hamilton said. “If you, as an athlete, do something negative then you are going to be in the spotlight a whole lot more than if you do something positive.”
One value of importance is academics, which — according to Goodson — is the most important aspect of a student-athlete’s life.
“I’ve been a teacher for 19 years and academics has always been the top priority, soccer is just a bonus,” Goodson said. Academics is most important and that’s part of the champion of characters, which values academics.”
This is the second nomination for Goodson who was nominated for the Champions of Character award in 2012. According to Hamilton, Goodson has embraced the entire initiative.
“Ron has really bought into the champions of character program,” Hamilton said. “He teaches character and what character means. Coaching men’s soccer can be a difficult field to demonstrate and display some of those positive values that athletics can instill.”
Goodson credits his staff and colleagues for the chance to win the award.
“I would be humbled but it’s my whole team, my whole staff,” Goodson said. “I’m the coach and the one that gets nominated, but it’s a whole team effort.”
Chris Slone can be reached at 353-3101, ext 298, or email@example.com. For breaking sports new, follow Chris on Twitter @crslone.
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