For the past nine years, the Peru State athletic department has hosted a Champions of Character Kickoff event. On September 9, the Peru Association of Student Athletes (PASA) – formerly the Student Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC) – hosted the event in the Al Wheeler Activity Center.
The PASA officers, along with athletic department officials, planned the event which is designed to acclimate new student-athletes and to remind past student-athletes about the five core values of the NAIA's Champions of Character program. In addition, it gives all of the student-athletes to see their student leadership in action.
PASA president Ally Hazen (North Platte) kicked off the evening by introducing the president of Peru State, Dr. Dan Hanson, and his wife, the First Lady, Elaine Hanson. Dr. Hanson, an avid supporter of Bobcat athletics, thanked the athletic department for their efforts in terms of community service and their work in the classroom. He noted that the larger group in attendance and thanked everyone for their efforts in securing the largest freshmen classes in at least 30 years.
Following Dr. Hanson's comments, Hazen asked all the members of PASA to come forward and introduce themselves to the throng of student-athletes and coaches in attendance.
Then, PASA vice president Vivian Brown (Wichita, Kan.) noted that the PASA co-advisers had challenged the officers to come up with something different in sharing the core values of Champions of Character. The leadership team did just that as they developed a Jeopardy game for the event. Three teams were selected to compete to play Jeopardy. In a spirited competition, the women's basketball team defeated the football and cheerleading representatives.

Bailey Johnson (Johnson), the PASA communications director, then introduced the evening's guest speaker. Peru State was fortunate enough to have the Heart of America Athletic Conference (Heart) commissioner, Ms. Lori Thomas, to share some thoughts. Ms. Thomas, who is beginning her sixth year as the commissioner, thanked Peru State for having her visit. She noted that the College was also the first one to have her visit shortly after she became the commissioner.
Ms. Thomas shared seven key traits to leading a team, along with some anecdotes for each. Those seven traits were:
Be the first to serve and the last to be served.
Be the first to lead by example and the last to violate team standards.
Be a lifeline of communication between coach and team and the last to withhold information.
Be the first to praise others and the last to brag about yourself.
Be the first to protect and defend and the last to criticize.
Be the first to confront violations of team standards and do so with care.
Be the first to encourage and the last to become discouraged.
In addition, Ms. Thomas shared some fun things that happen when your athletic days are over.
Hazen thanked Ms. Thomas for her talk and then turned the microphone over to athletic director Wayne Albury. Albury thanked everyone for coming and more importantly, thanked everyone for their efforts for last year which resulted in the athletic department becoming a GOLD Champions of Character school for the first time. In addition, the department scored a perfect 100 points for the first time ever.