CHICKASHA – Respect, responsibility, integrity, servant leadership and sportsmanship. These are the qualities of a true Champion of Character, and they are the qualities of USAO’s lone senior, Kris Andrews.
Andrews was named one of the 32 NAIA Champions of Character on Friday night at a banquet honoring the USAO Drovers and the Grand View Vikings.
The banquet was a time for the teams to gather the night before the NAIA Men’s Soccer National Championship Opening Round game, which is scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday at Hampton Field at Chickasha High School.
“Kris was selected because we believe he represents what we look for in a footballer at USAO,” USAO head coach Jimmy Hampton said. “He works hard every day. He comes with a great attitude. He is a great teammate and an excellent student-athlete who embraces everything we value.”
Andrews said he is very honored to be USAO’s Champions of Character recipient and to be chosen out of all his teammates.
“I’ll remember it and cherish it for the rest of my life,” he said. “I always want what’s best for the team, and I’ll willing to do what it takes … I’d think that’s why (I was chosen.)”
Of the five core values of the NAIA, Hampton said he thinks Andrews most exemplifies the first one, respect.
“He has respect for his teammates, his coaches, the opponent and the game,” Hampton said. “He leads by example every day by the way he trains and by the way he treats people.”
Andrews has played for the Drovers for four years. After planning to take this season off and help out as a student assist, Andrews decided at the last minute he needed one more year on the field with his teammates.
“He values team success over individual success,” Hampton said. “For four years, he has shown up to work every day. He is a team guy. He does whatever is asked of him and competes for the team not himself.”
As the only senior, Andrews in the only player on the team who has been to all four NAIA National Tournament appearances, helping the Drovers to the NAIA Quarterfinals the last two years.
“We will miss his leadership and football ability in the middle of the park, but we will miss him more as a quality young person who has left our program in better shape then when he arrived,” Hampton said.
Andrews is set to graduate in December with degrees in physical education and business administration. He plans to move out to California, where he has family, to find a job.
“It’s been a blast,” he said of his four years at USAO. “I’ve had a lot of fun. Not one regret. The guys I’ve played with are top notch and the coaches are amazing. I don’t think I could have had a better coach.”
This is the fourth time USAO has been to the NAIA Opening Round but the first time they have had an opportunity to host. Coaches are asking to see 1,500 Drover fans out at the game.
Tickets are $4 for adults and $3 for students, with a special discounted $2 price for USAO and CHS students with an ID. Children younger than 12 get in free.
USAO Athletic Department has agreed to pay for the first 50 students who show up with a USAO ID on Saturday.