(Watch a video of the award presentation.)
The St. Ambrose track and field program is about more than being the best on the oval, rings or runways.
For Coach Dan Tomlin '05, '10 MBA, being an Ambrosian means being a good athlete—while also being a good student and community servant.
Last week, the men's team was named the Buffalo Funds NAIA Champions of Character Team of the Year.
On campus, the men's team consists of leaders. With men working as residence hall advisors, and serving in campus ministry and student government, the Bees make a positive contribution.
In the community, the team has tried to lead by neighborly stewardship and multiple service projects, making the Quad Cities a better place to live.
"This was a very important award for us, because it validates what we're doing as a team and rewards the kids for their outstanding leadership on campus and in the community," Tomlin said. "When you're an Ambrosian you're expected to go out into the community and be a servant.
"Help those who need it and provide services to improve the entire community. I've been very proud of how our kids have gone out of their comfort zones and become true servants. It's not easy to do. It's easier to sit in their rooms and play video games and assume someone else will do it. Challenging them to go out and be leaders has really set our team apart."
Tomlin said the men's squad accomplished the following service projects in 2012-2013:
- First Annual Monroe Elementary Scarecrow Scramble: "We had 100 student-athletes organize, set up, run and clean up the elementary school's biggest fundraiser of the year," Tomlin said. "Over 250 students participated in a really fun day promoting wellness and community." Participants had to run a certain distance: K-3rd grade, a 400m; 4th-8th grade had 800m. "Once they did that they got a t-shirt and would go to other 'stations' for games, where they would get prizes," the coach explained.
- Urban Plunge: On their very first day of college life, all 22 first-year team members participated in Urban Plunge, a four-hour day of service at 10 Quad Cities locations. "Urban plunge allows students to give back to others; learn about their new community; and meet other first-year students," Tomlin said. Projects ranged from cleaning city parks to painting the walls of local schools.
- Bee the Difference Day: More than 20 men participated. "It was an opportunity for SAU students to serve neighbors by helping with home projects," said the coach. "Most of the time these neighbors are elderly or infirm and can't otherwise rake leafs, mow the grass, or do other chores necessary for home upkeep."
- Madison Elementary Christmas Gifts: "As we have for the past 30 years, the athletic department buys a Christmas gift for all 500 students at the school," said the coach. "The men's track team, with 75 athletes, is a big part of this. From buying the gifts to going over and 'surprising' the children 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 handful of men helped deliver Thanksgiving dinners to the poor. "It is a very enriching experience for everyone involved to see how the less fortunate live, and to also deliver some happiness during the holiday season." Tomlin said.
- Academic Success: Since Tomlin took over the program in June of 2007, the men have averaged higher than a 3.00 GPA as a team, and have had 25 athletes garner NAIA Scholar-Athlete Awards.