Shawnee Mission East runner Will Clough and soccer coach Jamie Kelly were recipients of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Champions of Character award at a luncheon on Monday afternoon.
Athletic director Debbie Katzfey nominated Clough and Kelly and then the NAIA’s review committee determines, based on their five core values — integrity, respect, responsibility, sportsmanship and servant leadership — who would received the award.
Kelly said whoever is nominated and fits the criteria received the award. The school and the sport didn’t matter.
“It was a great honor,” Kelly said. “It’s what I try to do in coaching, which is lead by character. Having going to Missouri Valley College, which is a NAIA school, I know the mottos they preach through their schools and intercollegiate athletics.”
Kelly also said it reflects his players and how they carry themselves on and off the field.
He said he and his staff try to instill life lessons such as always respecting their opponents, always treating the game and officials with respect and knows that’s not always easy with teenagers.
“We always do our best to turn them into life lessons as much as possible because that’s what’s going to help them later on in life,” Kelly said. “That’s what we love about team sports that they teach us all these life lessons because you have to work with teammates just like you have to work with people at your job. You have to respect your boss, you have to respect your colleagues and get along with them because it makes the workplace better and it makes it so that you can be productive.”
Kelly plans on getting a frame for his medal to go along with the fourth-place state medal to symbolize the season and remember the year he got the NAIA medal.
“If I can find a nice place in my basement to display it, I’d love to,” Kelly said. “Reflect on it and remind myself why I do what I do. Just remember there’s always teaching moments in every game, every practice. All the wins and losses won’t mean anything if I can’t teach the kids to live their life the right way.”