Brandon Cole Receives 2006 Dr. Leroy Walker Champions Of Character Award

Siloam Springs, Ark. (April 22, 2006) — Olathe, Kan. – The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) announced today that Brandon Cole, a student-athlete from John Brown University (JBU) in Arkansas, has been named the 2006 recipient of the Dr. LeRoy Walker Champions of Character Award. This award is considered one of the most prestigious awards in the NAIA and was created as part of the NAIA’s association with Citizenship Through Sports Alliance (CTSA) a group including ten other member organizations from the world of sports with the aim of promoting and recognizing sportsmanship.

“The NAIA is extremely proud of Brandon and happy to award him the Dr. LeRoy Walker Champions of Character Award,” said NAIA Director of Champions of Character Initiatives Rob Miller. “Brandon is a great success story in and out of sports and a great role model for youth and representative for the NAIA.”

The award is named after Dr. Walker, President emeritus of the United States Olympic Committee who served as president through the 1996 Atlanta Summer Games. Dr. Walker is a graduate of Benedict College (S.C.) and is a former president of the NAIA. In 1995, Dr. Walker was recognized with the Service Master-NAIA distinguished Graduate of the Year Award.

In 2006, the NAIA celebrates this award by recognizing Cole who leads by example in all aspects in and out of athletics. In basketball Cole broke two all-time collegiate records during the 2005-06 campaign and holds five JBU records. In December he claimed the record for consecutive games with a made three-pointer for the 112th straight game breaking all previous held records in the NAIA and NCAA. The previous record of 111 was held by former NBA player and NAIA athlete Mike Penberthy of the Los Angles Lakers. Cole ended his career with 120 consecutive games making a three-point field goal. He also holds a second collegiate record with most three-point field goals made in the history of college basketball. His 517th three-pointer broke the collegiate record of 516 held by Jeff Clement of Grinnell NCAA Division III. His final record was 527 career made three-point field goals.

“When thinking about the five core character values of the NAIA’s Champions of Character initiative, I immediately begin to realize the impact that respect has had on me as a basketball player. Basketball has shown me the importance of respect and how it can influence everyone involved with the game,” said Cole. “I grew up working on our ranch with my father and playing basketball everyday under his coaching. His style of coaching showed me that respect is a value that should at all time be honored.”

In addition to breaking collegiate records Cole was named the NAIA National Tournament MVP when John Brown University was crowned NAIA Division I Men’s Basketball National Champions in 2005 and received numerous other awards and accolades dating back to his freshman year when he was named Sooner Athletic Conference Freshman of the Year.

“Cole models the core values of the NAIA Champions of Character program even better than he shoots the basketball, which is an incredible statement. His ability to maintain his values in the heat of competition has defined his greatness both off and on the court,” said JBU Assistant Basketball Coach Donnie Bostwick. “I would make the argument that maybe no other athlete has ever made a bigger impact on an NAIA campus than what Brandon has made at JBU.”

Off the court Cole is an Academic All-Conference honoree and holds an accumulative grade point average of 3.38. He is a spiritual young man who desires to some day be in full time ministry. Cole speaks at local Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) Huddles and recently completed an internship with the FCA this past summer. Cole has spent time talking to others at local churches and in chapel on the campus. He works with area children during little league basketball camps and has participated in several Champions of Character assemblies and presentations locally and in conjunction with the Buffalo Funds-NAIA Division I Men’s Basketball National Championships.

“I believe Brandon represents the highest ideals of the NAIA in character and sportsmanship as well as in academic and athletic abilities,” said Dr. Delia J. Haak an Associate Professor of Business at JBU. “Cole is achievement-oriented in pursuing important personal and team goals. He has a rare combination of self-confidence and humility as he approaches tasks and responsibilities and is often sought out by other students and faculty for his opinion and participation.”

Cole received the national Dr. LeRoy Walker Champions of Character Award from the following list of regional award winners: Levi Seekins of Vanguard University (Calif., Region II), Kendra Homan of Briar Cliff University (Iowa, Region III), Evi Steffens of Peru State College (Neb., Region IV), Sarah Williams of William Woods University (Mo., Region V), Jodi Carson of William Penn University (Iowa, Region VII), Brandon Kightlinger of Taylor University (Ind., Region VIII), Laura Jarvis of Houghton College (N.Y., Region IX), Megan Lease of Milligan College (Tenn., Region XII), Lexie Emerson of Faulkner University (Ala., Region XIII) and Margee Martinez of St. Thomas University (Fla., Region XIV).

“As I look back on the people that have made an impact on my career, I see clearly that each step of the way there was always a mutual amount of respect from both parties. This respect did not come from winning games and getting media attention. However, it came from a bond that was established because of the character that was represented,” said Cole. “I truly believe that the lessons I have learned about respect and the game of basketball has influenced that value in my life.”

Cole will be recognized at the 2007 NAIA National Convention and at the Citizenship Through Sports Alliance Annual Awards Dinner in St. Louis, Mo. on Saturday, June 10, 2006. Each year, the alliance presents awards to honorees from each of its ten member organizations: Major League Baseball, NCAA, NAIA, NHL, NBA, WNBA, National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA), National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE), National Federation of State High School Association (NFHS) and the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA). The CTSA is the largest coalition of professional and amateur athletics organizations in the United States focused on sportsmanship and building character through sport. -NAIA- A leader in the development of student-athletes, the NAIA is committed to changing the culture of sport through Champions of Character. Founded in 1937, the NAIA continues to be a pioneer in implementing exceptional standards for academics, diversity, and character. Today, the NAIA sponsors 23 collegiate championships in 13 sports for its nearly 300 member institutions throughout the United States and Canada. To learn more visit www.naia.org.

-CTSA- The Citizenship Through Sports Alliance is the largest coalition of professional and amateur athletics organizations in the United States, focused on character in sport. CTSA promotes fair play at all levels - youth leagues to professional sport - to reinforce the value of sport as a test of character. Since 1997, CTSA has been building a sports culture that encourages respect for self, respect for others, and respect for the game. To learn more visit www.sportsmanship.com.

-John Brown University- Established in 1919, JBU is a private, Christian university with more than 1,900 students from all over the U.S. and around the world. JBU offers more than 50 undergraduate degree programs, three degree completion programs and six graduate degree programs. All of JBU’s academic programs are fully accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. To learn more visit www.jbu.edu.

--submitted by the NAIA--