12/04/2013 – Aquinas head cross country coach, assistant track coach and sports information director Mike Wojciakowski is the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference (WHAC) 2013 Coach of Character recipient. The honor recognizes a coach who demonstrates methods of teaching character through sport while instilling a tradition of athletic and community excellence. The award centers itself on the five core values of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Champions of Character initiative: integrity, respect, responsibility, sportsmanship, and servant leadership.
For the past 16 years, Wojciakowski has been a model of high character around Aquinas' campus. His focus is on developing a complete individual, not just an athlete. A former Aquinas athlete himself, Wojciakowski understands the impact a coach can make and stresses how each athlete has so much more to offer than just being fast or helping the team to a win.
"Not only does Coach demand excellence out on the course, but also in how we apply ourselves in the real world," said Aquinas current runner Rachael Steil. "He works to develop us so that when we leave college, we can take what we've learned through racing and apply it to day-to-day life."
Wojciakowski serves on boards of various community running groups. In addition to hosting one of the largest regular-season cross country meets in the NAIA. He also participates in an athletic ride-along program for children with disabilities who normally would not be able to experience triathlons and road races. He received the Lifetime Contribution Award from Athletes in Motion for his dedication to the West Michigan endurance community and was twice cited by the Run GR Running Club for his personal integrity.
"Very few match Mike's balance of professionalism, caring attitude, and ability to foster support," noted Aquinas athletics director Terry Bocian. "His commitment to giving back is unsurpassed."
Although Wojciakowski has coached 15 WHAC Championship teams, 10 of which have placed in the top 10 at the NAIA Cross Country National Championships, he knows the profession has a deeper responsibility. His athletes are just as successful in the classroom, annually maintaining the highest team grade point average of all Aquinas teams, and actively support other teams and activities on campus.
"My success as a coach is not measured by championships," said Wojciakowski, "But by the impact my student-athletes make in the world once they leave college."