While the St. Ambrose University men's track team strives for conference and national championships, the Fighting Bees picked up some national recognition on another level this week.|
The team was honored as the NAIA Indoor Track & Field Champions of Character Team. Having learned of the honor earlier this year, the team was officially honored on campus this week by SAU president Sister Joan Lescinski.
The NAIA Champions of Character initiative, as it states, has five core values "that go well beyond the playing field to the daily decisions of our youth. These character values help young people — and those associated with their development — make good choices in all aspects of their life and reflect the true spirit of competition." Those values are: integrity, respect, responsibility, sportsmanship and servant leadership.
"The St. Ambrose men's track and field team is committed to upholding and enriching the reputation of SAU and the NAIA in the Quad-Cities," said SAU coach Dan Tomlin. "Through multiple service projects we have tried to lead by neighborly stewardship and make the Q-C a better place to live."
SAU's Fighting Bees tracksters registered multiple service projects, most geared toward underprivileged children and those in need. Among those have been:
— Monroe Elementary Scarecrow Scramble: SAU had 100 student athletes organize, set up, run and clean up the elementary school's biggest fundraiser of the year. At a school where 90 percent of the kids are on the free-lunch program, more than 250 students participated in a fun day promoting wellness and community. Everyone had to run a certain distance, Kindergarten through third grade ran a 400-meter and fourth-eighth had an 800-meter. Once they did that, they got a T-shirt and would go to other "stations" for games where they would get prizes.
— Urban Plunge: All 22 freshmen men participated in Urban Plunge on the first day of their college lives. They participated in a four-hour day of service at 10 locations. Urban Plunge allows students to give back to others, learn about their new community, and meet other first-year students. Projects ranged from cleaning up city parks to painting the walls of some local schools.
— Bee the Difference Day: More than 20 men participated in Bee the Difference Day. It was an opportunity for SAU students to serve neighbors by helping with home projects. Most of the time these neighbors are elderly or home-bound and can't otherwise rake leafs, mow the grass, or do other chores necessary for home upkeep.
— Madison Elementary Christmas Gifts: As SAU has for the past 30 years, the athletic department bought a Christmas gift for all 500 students at the school. The men's track team, with 75 athletes, are a big part of this. From buying the gifts to going over and "surprising neighbors" with the gifts to hanging out with them and playing with their new toys in the afternoon, the men make the day very special for every child.
— Thanksgiving baskets: At St. Anthony's Church in Davenport, a few male athletes helped out delivering Thanksgiving dinners to those in need. It is a very enriching experience for everyone involved to see how "the other half lives" and to also deliver some happiness during the holiday season.
"Being a student-athlete at St. Ambrose is so much more than what you do on the track, runway or the ring," said Tomlin, whose team also features five residence hall advisers, close to a dozen people in campus ministry and several members of student government. "When you're an Ambrosian, you're expected to go out into the community and be a servant. On campus, our men's team are leaders."