HASTINGS, NEB. – One soccer senior was honored with an NAIA Champion of Character award while in Hastings, Neb., for the opening round of the championship tournament.
“It feels good. It’s a very humbling experience,” Aiden Ashmore said. “I’m really glad, honored to receive it.”
USAO Soccer Head Coach Jimmy Hampton chose Ashmore for the award because he said Ashmore best portrayed the qualities of the NAIA Champion of Character. The qualities are: Integrity, respect, responsibility, sportsmanship and servant leader.
“He demonstrates those traits in everyday life,” Hampton said. “He’s going to do the right thing in every facet of life.”
Ashmore has been playing soccer since he was young, but the senior spent a lot of time on the bench in his first few years of USAO Soccer. After the team lost in Iowa in September, coaches decided to move him from right back to middle back.
Hampton said they had been hesitant to move him to middle back because players in that position are usually tall.
“We gave up eight goals in two games,” he said. “(Ashmore is) quick. He’s fast. … The heck with what the height is on paper.”
Hampton said Ashmore works hard, just as he did as a freshman, and has excelled in his new position.
While Ashmore loves soccer, he is also very dedicated to his degree and personal improvements. He is a chemistry major and will graduate in April. In his spare time, he reads books on the relationship between science and religion.
“The person you are tomorrow is based on what you read in that time,” he said. “Science fascinates me. I love getting in the lab and mixing chemicals up.”
The coaches chose Ashmore for this award because of the person he is outside of soccer, Hampton said.
“I think Aiden’s true to himself,” Hampton said. “The best way I can describe Aiden is he’s a guy you’d want to see with your daughter. … I don’t know if there’s a higher compliment a father could give a man.”
Even though Ashmore won’t be back next year, and Hampton will find someone else to play middle back, there won’t be anyone on the team quite like Ashmore, Hampton said. “Aiden, I don’t think he’s a guy we’ll replace,” Hampton said. “We’re happy for him -- A big fan of him."