Knights News
The men's tennis team received their award last night at the NAIA Tournament Banquet
The men's tennis team received their award last night at the NAIA Tournament Banquet
Men's Tennis - Tue, May 17, 2016
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MOBILE, Ala. - The Marian University men's tennis team received the Buffalo Funds Five-Star Champions of Character Award last night at the NAIA Tennis Banquet. 

This award is given at the end of the season for each of the NAIA's 23 championship sports. Teams that receive this prestigious award demonstrate in every day decisions integrity, respect, responsibility, sportsmanship and servant leadership. The institutions and athletic programs strive for excellence in and out of competition and are part of communities throughout the country dedicated to character-driven intercollegiate athletics.

Says head coach Steve Mackell, " Character is what makes or breaks our team in tourgh competition. If our student-athletes have a solid foundation with great morals, the sky is the limit for possiblities. With character our team becomes united. We fight together, push each other in practices, and stand by each other in tough defeats. Character is what has allowed our team to break into the national rankings for the first time in men's tennis. We have a good group of guys. They have their heads on straight and work as one."

The Knights have desplayed the five core values of the Champions of Character in a variety of ways. In addition to "having good heads on their shoulders", assistant coach Cassie Mackell stresses that they are working to prepare the team for life. "The team is expected to show up to practices and matches early just like they would for a job interview. Our team performs tasks in practice without question and they continually work hard to get better."

The team is also active in the community through various volunteer initiatives. They volunteered at The Lord's Pantry where they built a fence for their garden, helped clean up their garden, and helped with serving groceries to families on the west side of Indianapolis. The Knights also partnered with National Junior Tennis League and volunteered to work at a school fair where they played tennis with kids, trying to spread the word about tennis and get their families involved in summer tennis camps. 

The Knights have also partnered with Team Impact. Team Impact is an organization that helps with imporving the quality of life for children facing life-threatening and chronic illnesses through the power of team. At the the beginning of April, the team adopted Devin Hussey, a 12 year old boy that was diagnosed with Eosinophilic Esophagitis - a complex condition that attacks the digestive system and blood. The team has really taken Devin under their wing. When able, Devin attends team matches and is part of the introductions, team huddles and cheering with the guys on the sidelines. He comes to practices when able and the guys also text with Devin when his is having a bad day/week. Coach Cassie Mackell says, "They have truly taken him in like a brother."

The members of the team have had on-going discussions with their various service opportunities with how the Five Core Values have impacted their lives. "During our community service with The Lord's Pantry, discussions happened about how blessed we are to hav ethe lives we do and that we can go to college and play a collegiate sport. Also with Devin joining our team, mor discussions happened with others in regards to servant leadership and responsiblity."

Says senior Jason Denton on the team and the character of the team, Character is one of the most important aspects a team can have if they want to be successful. Incorporating character into the team dynamics is very important because this is what brings everyone together. Having a team full of people that come from all different backgrouds, it is important for us to become close with one another and be able to trust one another while we are out on the courts as we as off the court. I believe our team has become so close with one another that we can trust each other and know that every time we step on the court for a match, we are going to get the best from one another and that is all you can ask from anyone."