Friends University Men’s Cross Country Earns KCAC Team of Character Award

By Kelli Elmore, Assistant Commissioner
Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference

The Friends University men’s cross country team has been awarded the 2015 KCAC Team of Character honor. The KCAC Team of Character award was based off of the NAIA Champions of Character award and recognizes a school in each sport, as voted on by their peer coaches.

“Our team members have been leaders on the course in showing great community and sportsmanship,” head coach Damian Smithhisler said. “Following each competition this year, our student-athletes have gathered athletes from other schools to join them in a short moment of fellowship and prayer. We are competitors, but we are also colleagues and one in Christ.”

The Falcons have continued working with Friendship Fields, a group of college-aged students who come to campus twice a week to get the college experience despite their setbacks. The student-athletes meet with them to chat, have lunch, teach them games, and help them with homework.

“On campus, our student-athletes are leaders,” Smithhisler said. “They hold themselves to a higher standard and know they are representing their families and the cross country program. Academically, they are an overwhelming percentage of those not only taking part in the offered study sessions through the academic resource center, but also helping to do much of the tutoring.”

Friends also took part in the Race for Freedom 5K, a run to raise awareness of human trafficking in this country. The student-athletes gained knowledge about what human trafficking is, why it’s prevalent in the area, and how to recognize it in the community. Finally, the Falcons volunteered at the Night of the Living Zoo, helping to administer the activities and games at the Sedgwick County Zoo during a trick-or-treat night.

“In the community, this group is well-respected,” Smithhisler continued. “They treat others by the Golden Rule, regardless of age, race, or ability. They not only know the difference between right and wrong, but they live it and speak up when others are not given the respect they deserve. For that, I’m a very proud coach.”