Pacific Union College’s athletic department was recently presented with the California Pacific Conference Team Sportsmanship Award — again — for its performance last season.
The Pioneers have earned this prestigious award twice in the last four years, the first coming after the 2002-2003 season.
Robert Castillo, the college’s athletic director, sports information director and women’s basketball coach, accepted the award at the annual Cal-Pac Conference convention in August at Dominican University of California in San Rafael.
“It means a lot to us, especially since we gauge our success in different ways than other big schools who gauge it on wins and losses,” Castillo said. “We don’t have the history and, in a lot of cases, the skill and talent level other schools have. This is a reward that says a lot about the coaches and players that we have at PUC.”
The Sportsmanship award is presented to the member institution that displays outstanding sportsmanship and exemplifies the true spirit of the Champions of Character program set forth by the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).
All coaches vote their top three choices for the team sportsmanship award, without voting for their own institution. Points are awarded for one, two, and three, accordingly.
The institution that finishes with the highest point total is then presented the award at the Cal-Pac convention held each fall before the start of a new season.
Castillo added that PUC’s fellow Cal-Pac schools have made “a great amount of change” to how they do things in order to be recognized for the annual award and “the NAIA has done a great job with the program.”
The Pioneers compete in women’s volleyball, men’s soccer, men’s and women’s cross country, and men’s and women’s basketball.
PUC is one of 10 institutions that make up the Cal-Pac Conference.
Other than PUC, Simpson University (Redding) and Menlo College (Atherton), who won the award last season, are the only other institutions that have been recognized with this award.
The Cal-Pac has been presenting a member institution with this honor annually, since the 1999-2000 school year.
“I’m not so sure there’s a specific thing that makes us stand out above the others,” Castillo said. “I’ll revert back to the type of student-athletes we have here and the character they come in with. That’s what we recruit for. It pays off when these awards are given.”