Let the games begin

Soccer player running on field

In higher education, the month of August is all about anticipation. In a few short days, our students will be moving back in and another exciting academic year will begin. But before our entire campus community is back in place, the first arrivals are always our fall season student-athletes, who arrived this week.

Seeing our student-athletes return had me reflecting on just how instrumental athletics are to the overall college experience at The Woods. We have always stressed the importance of out-of-classroom activities as part of the total college education at WWU, from Greek life to global travel, and our athletics program is the biggest example of these, often overlapping ways in which our students connect. In fact, just this very year, we added to our athletics portfolio with the establishment of two new sports, men’s and women’s bowling and outdoor life sports, which will debut this fall. But even before those new additions, fully half of our undergraduate student population here at William Woods were student-athletes, competing for the Owls on one of our intercollegiate teams.

How many other colleges or universities can make that claim?

But what makes the WWU athletic experience unique is the quality of our individuals that represent us on the athletic fields, tracks or courts, proudly wearing the green and white. Yes, we have had our share of All-Americans, championship teams, and even athletes who went on the play professionally. But we also are proud to have student-athletes who compete with character and integrity, while excelling in the classroom.

Last week, we learned that our athletics department achieved Gold status as a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Champions of Character institution for the past academic year, the fourth time in the past five years William Woods Athletics has earned this distinction. Only 67 of the NAIA’s 252 institutions reach Gold status, which is presented to universities whose student-athletes display growth in character training, character promotion, commitment and conduct in competition.

And two weeks ago, we found out that our Owls softball team under head coach and Associate Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Tracy Gastineau claimed the number two team grade point average among all NAIA softball programs in the nation, while placing 18 student-athletes on the Easton/NFCA All-American Scholar-Athlete list, according to ranking by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA). Our Owls posted a 3.7183 GPA as a team, making it the ninth consecutive year WWU Softball ranked in the top five nationally. 

“Winning isn’t everything,” the great Vince Lombardi once famously claimed, “it’s the only thing.” At William Woods, we prove every year that it is possible to win with quality individuals who compete with character and sportsmanship while also acing their academics. I hope you make plans to cheer on our Owls during the coming year – the games are about to begin!

Go Owls!

Jeremy Moreland, Ph.D.
William Woods University



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