Menlo Athletes: Champions of Character

ATHERTON, CA — The Menlo College men’s basketball team was presented the 2007-08 Buffalo Funds Five Star Award after demonstrating the five core tenets of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics’ Champions of Character campaign.

The NAIA and Champions of Character founding partner Buffalo Funds designed the Champions of Character program to instill an understanding of character values in sport, and provide student-athletes, coaches and parents the training to help them know and do the right things, inside and outside the sports setting. The program is dedicated to the principle that character is a choice and that being a champion is about reaching potential and making good decisions consistently in daily life.

(photo: Head men's basketball coach Brandon Laird)

The mission of Champions of Character is to restore character values and raise a generation of students who understand and demonstrate in everyday decisions respect, responsibility, integrity, servant leadership and sportsmanship.

The Oaks set a goal this year to build inspiring relationships and be positive role models by instilling knowledge and encouragement to middle school and high school students in the surrounding community.

The Menlo College Outreach Program was created by this year’s Captain’s Council, a group of four players who are looked upon for leadership on and off the court. The Captain’s Council is comprised of seniors Bryon Wesley, Jeff Larson, Cody Christensen, and junior Chris Cobb.

On September 19, 2007, the Oaks volunteered their time to sort food at the Second Harvest Food Bank. The food bank distributes food to over 162,000 people in need per month.

The team also worked with the Cesar Chavez Academy After School Program and College Trak, groups that have organized after school programs for underprivileged youth in East Palo Alto, California. The Oaks orchestrated different activities including basketball drills and small group question forums as well as an autograph session.

The Menlo College men’s basketball team put on a free basketball clinic for 20 youth basketball players on November 10, 2007 at the YMCA in East Palo Alto, California.

“Character is not only a vital part of our team chemistry it is the key component of our team’s success on the court, in the classroom, throughout campus and within the community. Our team has established a very specific philosophy that incorporates and emphasizes the five core values. We hold each other accountable to maintain an environment that supports Champions of Character. Not only do we believe these core values will help contribute to our success on the court, but more importantly, these characteristics will help our student-athletes develop into well-rounded young men as they graduate from our program and move on to the next phase of their lives.” – Menlo Men’s Basketball Coach Brandon Laird

“Coach Laird has stressed character in every part of our team dynamics, not just in practice and in games, but in every part of our life. This has created a culture of highly motivated student-athletes. More importantly, it has created incredible friendships and lifelong memories. No matter what the situation or circumstance, as an individual or as a team, I know that our character will propel us to victory.” – Menlo senior Bryon Wesley