MARSHALL, Mo. – Scott Parkinson joins an exclusive list of USAO players named to be NAIA Champions of Character.
Parkinson, a senior defender on the men’s soccer team, was presented with his award at the Champions of Character banquet on Friday night at Missouri Valley College.
“He’s a leader in the locker room, on the field, in the classroom and in the community,” USAO head coach Jimmy Hampton said. “Sometimes you have to rein him in, but that’s a good quality in a guy.”
Parkinson is one of 32 players nationwide to earn the prestigious honor. Players are chosen who best demonstrate the five core values of the NAIA: Integrity, Respect, Responsibility, Sportsmanship and Servant Leadership.
Parkinson said he thought his leadership and effort to improve the program were what stood out to his coaches.
“I want to think I try to lead the boys on and off the field if I can,” he said. “I think a lot of us, not just me, always try to improve the program all year around, whether it’s raising money or improving the locker room, we just want it to be as good as it can be.”
Parkinson was crucial in the athlete-run initiative to brand and re-do the team’s locker room a few years ago and helped start the fundraising effort of selling ads for the Drover media guides.
“We always say have you left a place better than you when got here, and I think yes, he did,” Hampton said. “Hopefully, someone will pick that up and carry it after he goes on. It will be greatly missed.”
Parkinson has earned numerous awards in his four years at USAO, including the soccer program’s first NAIA All-America First Teamer, a Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athlete and Sooner Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year, but this one is particularly special to him.
“It feels great,” he said. “It’s the best one so far because it’s voted on by our coaching staff. Sometimes, they’re quite hard on us, so it’s nice to know that they appreciate you.”
Parkinson has started all four seasons for the Drovers, anchoring a back line that has recorded 37 shut outs in four seasons. Additionally, he has scored 16 goals, five of which were game-winners.
USAO men’s soccer has had four other players – Aiden Ashmore, Niall Crick, John Gardner and Kris Andrews – to be named an NAIA Champion of Character, a group of players Parkinson feels honored to join.
“I think the people who’ve won the award in the past, if you look at them … they’re all legends in their own rights at the program, so just to be named to be put with them in amazing,” he said.