MNU Defensive End Nominated for NAIA Award
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MNU junior defensive end and cheerleader Brandon Smith was selected by the HAAC Awards Committee as the 2011 HAAC winner of the Dr. LeRoy Walker Champions of Character Award. His nominating documentation has been submitted to the NAIA as the HAAC representative for the NAIA National Dr. LeRoy Walker Award.
The youth and family ministry major has twice been named to the All-Conference team as a defensive end, occasionally lines up at full back, and has a few touchdowns to his credit.
"It means doing the right things pays off," said Smith after being notified of the honor. "The smallest things that we do in life can sometimes speak out the most and do not always get overlooked. It means that I have clearly matured over the years. I used to be the one who would get walked by in the halls and nobody would say anything. So I made a promise to myself, that in every aspect of my life, I will try to reach out to people no matter what differences we have. I want everything that I do whether on the field or off the field reflect the God that is in me. To be considered for and awarded this means that people see God working through my life."
Brandon says that along with Christ, his father most influenced his character. "Watching and learning how my father handled different situations and how he responded to them my whole life is what has had the biggest influence on me. My father has always done the little things that most people don't focus on."
The Minneapolis, Minnesota native came to MNU in the fall of 2008, but wasn't sure he'd be able to attend at all.
"I came to MNU to have a new start. I wanted to go away for school and this was an opportunity for me to come to a place and experience God at the same time. I wasn't positive that I would be attending due to financial issues, but God provided! I didn't come to play football as many people would think (it is a plus don't get me wrong), I came to get my degree, experience a tight-knit community, and to grow in God."
Smith will graduate in 2012, and he says his future is in ministry. “I am majoring in youth and family ministry and would like to be a youth pastor. God has given me a huge passion for youth and I want to see the next generation cry out to God in such a way that He will overflow into their lives. Eventually I would like to open up a Boy's Home. This home will be a place for guys that struggle with behavior or legally. This house would be a place that we can work on the guys’ legal lives as well as their spiritual lives in such a way that every aspect of their lives work together."
The NAIA award is named after Dr. Walker, president emeritus of the United States Olympic Committee, who served as president through the 1996 Atlanta Summer Games. Dr. Walker is a graduate of Benedict College (S.C.) and a former president of the NAIA.
The award, considered one of the most prestigious honors in the NAIA, recognizes a student-athlete who excels in athletics and academics and is committed to the Champions of Character program's five core values of integrity, respect, responsibility, sportsmanship and servant leadership. The NAIA initiative is designed 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. Champions of Character is dedicated to the principle that character is a choice and that being a champion is about reaching one’s potential and making good decisions consistently in daily life.