Southwestern Assemblies of God University needed a rally in its volleyball match against a conference foe, and the Lady Lions opponent had an attack that appeared to land out of bounds.
As the crowd celebrated the point, one of the Lady Lions approached the referee to correct the call. She said she touched the ball, reversing the potential tide-turning point.
The Lady Lions left an impression on the crowd, and not because they went on to rally and win the match in five sets. It was a perfect example of their character and integrity.
These type of demonstrations of sportsmanship have led to SAGU head volleyball coach Hank Moore being nominated by the Sooner Athletic Conference for the NAIA's annual Coach of Character honor.
The annual NAIA Coach of Character accolade is awarded to a head coach of an NAIA institution who has been outstanding in demonstrating and embracing the five core values of the NAIA Champions of Character initiative, using methods of teaching character through sport and in community leadership through volunteering or service.
"A small, but impactful thing that coach Moore implemented when I was a junior was the 'integrity call,'" SAGU alumna Taylor (Calverly) Morgan said. "The player would tell the referee if they touched the ball while it was going out of bounds and the referee or line judges did not see it. This oftentimes made opposing teams confused because this level of integrity is unheard of in sports, but coach Moore is more concerned about shaping character than winning games."
Moore's priorities within the SAGU volleyball program have been focused on the development of the Lady Lions' faith in God and character, their academic success and the development of volleyball skills, in that order. The Lady Lions' practices have been known to start with Moore taking prayer requests and leading the team in prayer, and their matches end with the Lady Lions assembled in prayer with their opponents.
Moore sets up practice time for daily Bible devotions, mentioning that scripture study reinforces the NAIA's core values of respect, integrity, responsibility, servant leadership and sportsmanship. Moore selects prayer partners for his student-athletes among the team. Upperclassmen are assigned two or three underclassmen on the team to mentor.
"Hank works tirelessly to ensure that his volleyball program is run with the utmost class and integrity," Oklahoma City University coach Kristen Conventon said. "His teams are always held in such high regard around the league. He instills in his players the importance of a personal relationship with the Lord and his always working to nurture the faith of every single one of his athletes. Not only that, he is always ready to minister with fellow coaches, colleagues, and anyone else that might need to hear God's word."
"As a colleague, and most importantly, as a friend, Hank has personally had an impact on my life. He has earned the respect of so many coaches and teams not only because his teams are successful, but also because his character is above reproach."
In 2018, Moore collected SAC volleyball coach of the year for the second consecutive year. Moore led SAGU to its second SAC regular-season championship in a row with a 30-7 record and 18-2 mark within the SAC. The Lions reached the NAIA rankings for the first time ever in the Oct. 2 poll. SAGU had a winning streak of 22 matches during the season. Moore has coached at SAGU for the past 18 years.
"Coach Moore embodies and exemplifies what it means to be a servant leader who demonstrates a strong Christian witness and possesses the utmost integrity in how he coaches and leads," said Ken Carver, head volleyball coach at John Brown University. "He truly invests in the lives of the young women he coaches far beyond them as players. He maintains those relationships even after his players have graduated. While coach Moore strives for excellence with his individual team, he is also a strong advocate for the SAC and his fellow coaches."
"Everything coach Moore does is done with a servant's heart and his desire to enhance the lives of people he comes in contact with on the court and off. Coach Moore is truly a model of what it means to be a character-driven coach and well-deserving of this honor."