History  •   Mission   •   Program Outline   •   Frequently Asked Questions

Program Outline


A presentation by Cornerstone University Athletics Department

About Champions of Character

Champions of Character is a program of the NAIA designed to promote character development in youth and change the culture of sport.

The NAIA developed the Champions of Character program in response to the growing problem of deteriorating standards of integrity in sports and society. At a time when all of sport has experienced increasingly abhorrent behavior by athletes, coaches, fans and parents, NAIA Champions of Character raises the standards for positive youth development in athletics and academics.

The Champions of Character initiative is based on five core values: integrity, respect, responsibility, sportsmanship and servant leadership. Our emphasis is on training coaches who can model and teach character as well as physical skills.  We want coaches with the courage and ability to hold their athletes to "standards higher than victory".  Our desire is to graduate young people who can demonstrate the five core values of Champions of Character as well as athletes who want to play with and compete against other athletes of character who are striving to live a life of integrity.

The Champions of Character program is designed to instill an understanding of character values in sport and provide practical tools for student-athletes, coaches and parents to use in modeling exemplary character traits.

Launched by the NAIA in 2000, the Champions of Character program addresses character issues more comprehensively than any other national program for youth. The program currently reaches hundreds of thousands of students on nearly 300 college and university campuses in North America and extends into their surrounding communities.

The NAIA Champions of Character program is an educational outreach initiative which emphasizes the tenets of character and integrity, not only for NAIA college students, but for younger students, coaches and parents in our communities.

Coaches, parents, administrators and community partners all have a role in developing students of character. The NAIA Champions of Character program brings them training, guidelines and behavior models to create positive environments that promote personal growth and fun sport activity.

Discover how character training benefits academic and athletic achievement.

Learn how Champions of Character can impact your team's attitude and performance.

Understand your role and how it benefits your student.

Learn how the program strengthens relationships with the community.

Benefit from aligning your organization with positive youth programs.

Learning Character Values from Sport

Cornerstone University and the NAIA see a tremendous need to supplement character development in younger students from the elementary through high school level. Lessons on character and integrity through sports are a natural extension of classroom learning.

"Sports can provide a venue for social adjustment, character building, a sense of belonging, usefulness, psychological well-being, and ultimately a springboard to the highest values of citizenship."

-American Sports Data

Program Centers

Campus-based Program Centers at NAIA colleges and universities across North America focus on education of NAIA coaches and student-athletes and broad-based community outreach. They share the core values, messages and resources of the Champions of Character program with their local students, coaches, parents, and school and youth league administrators to promote meaningful change in the culture of sport in their local communities. Members of the civic and business community also participate in the Champions of Character Program Center activities.

Community Outreach

Through Program Centers, speakers and presentations about the importance of character both on and off the playing field are available to local schools and organizations. Classes, workshops and summits like The Power of a Coach's Words or Redefining the Term "Athlete" provide application models for coaches and parents to teach and model the five core values.

Campus leaders of character, student-athletes who demonstrate an exceptional commitment to the five core values, share the message of respect, responsibility, integrity, servant leadership and sportsmanship to youth of all ages through reading sessions and mentoring programs. Serving as role models for younger student-athletes, leaders of character demonstrate how making character-based decisions leads to success in sports and in life.


For more information contact:
Mike Riemersma
Cornerstone University
Assistant Athletics Director
616-254-1671 (office)
616-540-1048 (cell)
[email protected] (email)

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