KANSAS CITY, Mo. --- On August 9, 2010, tragedy struck the California Baptist University community in the form of a swerving SUV on Highway 395 near Bishop, Calif. At the crux of the collision were the track and field team and CBU cheer coach Wendy Rice. Twelve athletes were injured in the accident, and Rice lost her life soon after.
Ten months later, the same team that was devastated is now being praised as the recipient of the NAIA Buffalo Funds 5-Star Champions of Character Team Award for outdoor track.
“It’s a pretty big accomplishment for us,” said Head Coach Wade Watkins. “The team deserved it after all of the trials we went through.”
With the heartbreak of losing a friend and the injuries sustained from the accident the team knew it would have to find a way to overcome a catastrophe that could have easily taken away its hope.
“Everyone was in shock...we had seven athletes in the hospital,” said Watkins about the aftermath.
So the coaches and players took their motto, ‘running for a greater purpose,’ to heart.
“That was our mantra...it was our theme. It was at the forefront of everything we did,’ said Watkins.
“They turned what happened in the fall into helping others. We were running for God.”
The axiom was evident to competitors and fans, as the Lancers demonstrated true sportsmanship throughout the season to earn the honor.
The Buffalo Funds Five Star Champions of Character award is given to teams that display exemplary character and sportsmanship not only in competition but also on their campuses and in the wider community.
The five core values of the Champions of Character are: integrity, respect, responsibility, sportsmanship, and student leadership.
NAIA Scholar Athletes
Four CBU outdoor track athletes were awarded as Daktronics-NAIA Scholar Athletes following the championships last weekend.
Civil Engineering major Chris Cline represented the men, while three Lancer women received recognition.
Neimeyer, an English major from Temecula Calif., ran the second leg of the 4x400 meter relay for the sixth place CBU squad at the GSAC Finals.
Sjoerdsma finished in ninth place in the 1500 meters at the GSAC Championships, while Sawyer placed 19th (20:31.75) in the 5000 meter run.
To be qualify as an NAIA Scholar Athlete the student athlete must hold a GPA between 3.5 and 4.0 while competing in a varsity sport.