Baseball integrates Champions of Character into local school

Baseball integrates Champions of Character into local school

Tue, Feb. 10, 2015 - [FHU News]

HENDERSON, Tenn. - Freed-Hardeman sports teams have a reputation of outstanding character on and off the field, and Lion baseball is no exception.

The NAIA Champions of Character initiative is something that baseball coach Jonathan Estes wanted his players to learn and take seriously, so he developed the Champions of Character program at East Chester Elementary School three years ago.  With the help of his wife, Ashley Estes, an instructor in the School of Education, they developed a simple curriculum for the baseball players to teach the students about the five core values of character: respect, responsibility, sportsmanship, integrity, and servant leadership.

This past fall, the players collaborated with the senior-level Classroom Management class to add a management component and provide a better experience for the students.   The groups visited the assigned class on four occasions and taught a 30-minute lesson on one of the core character values, including student and player interactions and reading a book centering around the core value as well as role-playing and skits.  Each lesson also included activities for the student to take home with them.

“It was good for my students to have experience writing a lesson plan relating to a Champions of Character trait since they may need to do that in their future classrooms. It was also good for them to work with non-education majors to gain another perspective, and to work with athletes that they might not even know otherwise,” Ashley Estes, the instructor for the Classroom Management course, said.

“The students at East Chester seem to really enjoy the guys coming over. Our players benefit by being stretched out of their comfort zone into an environment most of them have never been in and teaching young people about positive character traits,” Coach Estes said.

Becky Welch, a third grade teacher at East Chester, enjoyed having the players come over and teach about the character traits both on an educational and a personal level.

“My kids have always loved when FHU athletes came to our room.  This program allowed them to get to know the athletes on a personal basis.  The students listen to these athletes so much better on topics that are very serious.  I knew they were listening and understanding what was being said when they would bring up what was talked about later on down the road,” Welch said.  “The players always seemed to get a lot out of it as well.  Some of my baseball players would come back to visit and always ask about the kids when I see them outside the classroom.”

Connor Kohlscheen, a senior on the baseball team who has been involved in the program for three years, said, “Those kids reminded me how fun it is to live simply, and enjoy every aspect of one's day.”

Jordan Newby, a junior FHU baseball player, has enjoyed getting involved in the community for his three years in the program.

“A great outcome of the program is that we have made connections between the school, athletic department and the community,” he said.  “Every once in a while, I'll see one of the kids out around town and they'll come say hi, which is pretty cool.”

Story by Abby Besson