Georgetown News
Tigers' harriers received NAIA character award Friday.
Tigers' harriers received NAIA character award Friday.
Cross Country - Fri, Nov. 20, 2015

Georgetown College men's and women's cross country achieved a first in Tiger athletics through their selflessness and community-centered outreach this season.

Friday evening at the honors banquet for the NAIA Cross Country National Championship meet, the men's team received the NAIA Buffalo Funds Five Star Champions of Character Team Award for all these efforts. However, coach Lucas Garnett is quick to point out, this award is an acknowledgement for both teams.

This award was created to recognize one team in each sport based upon their documented display of exemplary character and sportsmanship during practice, competition, on campus and in the community and no other Georgetown team has ever received this award. The NAIA Cross Country Coaches Association Officers was the voting body for this honor.

The NAIA builds its foundation on a program it started – Champions of Character. This is designed to help athletes grow beyond the competition field with focuses on five core values of: integrity, respect, responsibility, sportsmanship and servant leadership.

The NAIA realized in sports there is always a ranking or scoreboard or clock to measure accomplishments and it is easy to get caught up in the personal goals of this society's version of winning. It wanted to break that mold, and the Tigers' harriers lived out that mission this season.

Georgetown College men's and women's cross country teams have been proving there are much more important ways to measure victories.

Under first-year coach Lucas Garnett the 16 young men and women have been making a mark that is ever lasting. Through numerous outreach projects our Tiger harriers have been racing to change the quality of living.

The first big undertaking was an evening with the Blessing Ball. It was an opportunity to enjoy time with a special needs individual dancing and celebrating life.

"It all started because it was an event I wanted to help with and offered the idea out to the athletes," Garnett said. "What transpired was completely awe-inspiring. Every single one wanted to help and participate as well as rallied some other athletes from track and field to help make sure the night ran without a hitch.

"I was very impressed with this, so much so I thought I'd see how they would do with a shoe drive that was targeted at giving old shoes that are still wearable to charity and donating the unwearable ones to making playing surfaces you see at parks, on tracks and various other synthetic needs."

The outpouring there was overwhelming. Garnett envisioned 100 pairs of shoes to weed through and distribute. The energy and excitement of the team through social media and word of mouth brought 517 pairs of shoes.

"Words can't express the way these two teams have warmed my heart and altered the surroundings for the better," Garnett said.

Service projects are only a part of the picture as the coach learned of unseen kind actions of his athletes from opposing coaches. Many outside the sport do not fully grasp what goes into making a cross country meet successful. Days prior marking off the course, making sure the areas are safe for runners or illuminating trouble spots. Finding timers, starters, compiling all the data, figuring out the presentation of awards and sending people on their way after numerous races of all ages is the sneak peek behind the scenes. It is usually an overlooked process.

"After you've run and put your body through what our athletes do, usually rehydrating, getting awards and getting back in a comfortable vehicle is the focus," Garnett said. "However, it was a huge blessing after one of our races this year to get to work Monday and have a note from the coach of the school running the meet. It was detailed to me how special Georgetown's athletes were as several of them sought this coach out after the long day to express what a great meet the school had run and thanked the coach for all the special effort.

"That's unique and a title to hold up much higher than any winning trophy."

At the banquet, the NAIA had this to say about the Tigers:

"This is a team with a large amount of respect for other opponents and coaches. They are highly involved on their campus. All season long their selflessness and positive attitudes have reigned the utmost at practice, on the course, in the classroom and within the community. The success the team has seen during this season is just as much a function of this selflessness as it is the hard work they have put in."

 
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