KANSAS CITY, Mo. – April 2, 2009– The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics announced today that Mark Campbell, women’s basketball coach at Union University, has been named the 2009 recipient of the NAIA Coach of Character Award.
The Coach of Character Award is given annually to a coach who demonstrates methods of teaching character through sport and instills a tradition of athletic and community excellence.
“Character coaching is not just a sometime thing to Mark Campbell but is a way of life,” said E.L. Hutton, commissioner of the TranSouth Athletic Conference. “Mark stresses the concepts that are represented in the Champions of Character five core values from the first day his student-athletes arrive on campus until the day they graduate.”
At the start of the Lady Bulldogs 2008-09 campaign, Campbell set a goal to ensure his players recognized the difference between the excitement from winning a game and the excitement from making a positive impact on another person’s life. Campbell uses the game of basketball in a way where his players understand that one is for fun and the other is a lifelong purpose.
During his tenure at Union, Campbell has managed to marry success both on and off the basketball court. Campbell, in his 10th season as head coach, led the Lady Bulldogs to the 2009 NAIA Division I women's basketball national title. Earlier in the season Campbell reached his 300th career coaching win and Union stayed in the No. 1 position in the NAIA Top 25 poll throughout the season, its second consecutive year to consistently hold the top spot.
Recognized throughout the country as a premier basketball program, Union has won the TranSouth Athletic Conference regular season title 11 times in the 13-year league history.
Campbell’s awards and accolades are many. He has been named the NAIA National Coach of the Year on three occasions, named Women's Basketball Coaches Association National Coach of the Year two different times and has been voted the TranSouth Athletic Conference Coach the Year four times.
More importantly, Campbell is known throughout the community as a man of deep faith and exemplary character. His life and influence on his players and all those with whom he has contact results in making those around him better people.
Campbell is quoted in the Lady Bulldog media guide saying, “I believe my responsibility to each of my players is to have a vision for who they can be in every area of life, and communicate it to them in a way that challenges them to pursue it.”
The Lady Bulldogs' winning traditions carry over into the Jackson, Tenn. community. The coaching staff and players spend time at local schools and ministries reading to elementary students and mentoring at-risk youth. Each year Campbell and his players sponsor a child in Sierra Leone through the World Vision organization and sponsor a local child in a campus wide effort to provide Christmas for children from the Carl Perkins Child Abuse Center. In the off-season Campbell hosts a three-day summer camp for underprivileged youth in the local community.
Campbell was chosen as the national winner of the NAIA Coach of Character Award from a group of nominees submitted by member conferences. Campbell will be recognized at the NAIA Awards Dinner held in conjunction with the 2010 NAIA Convention.
"I know of no one more deserving of this award than Coach Mark Campbell," Union President David S. Dockery said. "He exemplifies so well all the things represented by this award. The entire Union University community congratulates Coach Campbell on this outstanding recognition."