Lady Bobcats Assistant Coach Paul Voliva, Former Lady Bobcats/C of O alumni Kelsey Combs Howerton, Miranda Vaught, Julie Posey, and Morgan Hickey, and C of O Athletic Director Al Waller received the award on behalf of the team.

November 26, 2012

Outstanding sportsmanship, citizenship, servant leadership, character, and winning are descriptors often used when talking about the College of the Ozarks Lady Bobcats. For the fourth time, the Lady Bobcats earned the National Runner-up title in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Division II (NAIA D-II) Women’s Basketball Championship held in March. Equally, if not more, important (than the team’s record), is the off-the-court activities that led to the Lady Bobcats receiving two of the most prestigious honors given by the NAIA and the Citizenship Through Sports Alliance (CSTA).

Recently, the NAIA and CTSA named the Lady Bobcats as the recipient of the “All That’s Right in Sport” award, which the team formally received on November 17, at the 13th Annual National Sportsmanship Awards (one of the most renowned sports awards events in the country) hosted by the St. Louis Commission and CSTA.

During the NAIA Women’s Championship tournament held in March, the Lady Bobcats also were recognized—that time with the “Buffalo Funds Five Star Champions of Character” award. At the end of each sports season, the NAIA recognizes only one college in every sport with the Champions of Character award. Teams are selected based on “exemplary character and sportsmanship displayed during practice, competition, on campus, and in the community.”

What caught the attention of the NAIA and CSTA, that team members or their coaches would never boast, is that the Lady Bobcats quickly responded to the needs of nearby Joplin High School, which was destroyed by an EF5 tornado May of May 2011. The Lady Bobcats would not sit idly by as Joplin residents struggled to rebuild. Only a few weeks after the storm, with the help of Head Coach George Wilson and Assistant Coaches Becky Vest and Paul Voliva, the team organized a benefit game that raised $10,000 for the Joplin High School girls’ basketball team that had lost everything to the tornado.

“We were very overwhelmed with College of the Ozarks, the women’s basketball team, and coaches in how they took it upon themselves to rescue our program,” said Joplin Lady Eagles Basketball Coach Vicki Spivy. “We will forever be thankful to Coach Wilson, his staff, and his girls for what they did for us. Not just material things were given; hope was restored. My girls realize that there are great people in this world, and it starts with the team from College of the Ozarks.”

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