GGC Named Champions of Character Five-Star Institution
Grizzly Athletics takes home Silver recognition in just its second-ever year of existence
LAWRENCEVILLE – Within moments of entering the Grizzly Athletics Complex at Georgia Gwinnett College, visitors are greeted with the two linchpins of the Office of Athletics. In the foyer outside the office suite, a collage displays the impressive trophy haul of the 2013-14 school year, and directly across from it sits the academic center. It’s the emphasis on both winning and scholarship that has helped GGC announce its presence on a national level. Earlier this winter, the NAIA took notice as it named the school a Champions of Character Five-Star Institution.
“It was a great year for us in 2013-14, both on and off the field,” Dr. Darin S. Wilson, GGC director of Athletics said. “Winning is something that we take pride in here at GGC, but it’s not all that we’re seeking to accomplish. We want to make sure that we do things in the right way and make a positive impact on both the fields and courts of play as well as out in the community.”
The Office of Athletics maintains a laser-like focus on its mission statement, which is “To develop lifelong leaders of character through academic and athletic excellence.”
Wilson has put that statement, as well as the core values of the pursuit of excellence, responsibility, sportsmanship, leadership and service, at the forefront of everything the Office of Athletics has already accomplished and what it seeks to accomplish. The NAIA shares a number of these values within the Champions of Character program, which aims to promote integrity, respect, responsibility, sportsmanship and servant leadership across collegiate athletics.
In addition to the athletic successes of 2013-14, which saw GGC claim a pair of national titles in just its first year of eligibility, the Grizzly Softball team picked up a national honor of its own as the squad was the first in college history to earn the prestigious Champions of Character team award. On the field, the Grizzlies put together an impressive 39-10-1 record on the year, and off the field, they engaged in a number of community projects, including Special Olympics Georgia, Relay for Life and Dream House Atlanta.
“I love our national championship trophies, but the trophy that I’m as proud of as any is the one that Kat Ihlenburg’s softball team brought home last year,” Wilson said. “That’s a great honor, and for what we’re trying to do with Grizzly Athletics, to win that trophy is pretty special. Obviously, we want to win, but we want to also put great role models out on those fields and courts too.”
GGC was one of 168 institutions in NAIA to earn the Five Star designation. Schools are awarded points based on character training, conduct in competition, academic focus, character recognition and character promotion. GGC was recognized at the silver level, which is the second-highest honor that can be obtained through the program.