The first, of course, was making history with an NAIA National Tournament Opening Round win. But Niall Crick left with an equally as special honor – he was named an NAIA Champion of Character.
“It was unexpected, which makes it more special,” the junior midfielder said. “It was nice to win it. It’s a strange award because it’s not for sports.”
Each National Tournament team nominates a player who exemplifies the NAIA motto of strong character and its five core values: integrity, respect, responsibility, sportsmanship and servant leadership.
“We think Niall on and off the field does things right,” Coach Jimmy Hampton said. “He’s there and you know what he’ll bring to the table.”
The recognized player must be strong in the classroom, on the field and in the community.
“He attacks in the classroom,” Hampton said. “On the field, I thought he was as good or just as good as anyone in the conference … it’s that consistency.”
Crick came back this season as a junior with a conscious decision to be a leader on the team, he said.
“I have a pretty good GPA, and I try to lead by example for the younger players,” he said.
In addition to soccer and school, Crick serves as the poetry and fiction editor for The Trend, USAO’s student newspaper.
Crick, originally from Leith, Scotland, said he’s stayed on the team for both the camaraderie and the team’s winning reputation.
“Obviously (I’ve enjoyed) the success we’ve had as a team,” he said. “And I’d never had imagined it would be this easy to fit in.”
Crick plans to graduate in April 2012 with a degree in communication. He aspires to be a sports journalist, covering soccer either in the United States or abroad. He is the son of Stephen Coulson and Sylvia Crick.
For Balladeer’s Blog’s exclusive interview with Crick and two of his teammates click here: https://glitternight.com/2010/10/27/hamptons-heroes-an-interview-with-3-usao-soccer-stars/