Our 2023 Champions of Character

Posted: February 2, 2023

[ SOURCE: hiuroyals.com ]

Two HIU Royals -- Jade Philips of women's volleyball and Jesus Vargas of men's soccer -- were among 20 student-athletes from across the Golden State Athletic Conference to be honored as 2023 Cliff Hamlow Champion of Character award recipients. The award is given to one male and one female student-athlete on each GSAC campus who demonstrate outstanding athletic achievement, campus and community leadership, future ambition, and exemplify the five core character values of the NAIA Champions of Character program: Respect, Responsibility, Integrity, Sportsmanship and Servant Leadership. To qualify, candidates must be at least a junior and maintain a 3.0 GPA or higher. 

Jade Philips, a junior middle blocker for the Hope International Women's Volleyball team, consistently treats her teammates and opponents with respect, and displays great sportsmanship as one of the team's top players. At her local church, Jade volunteers in the youth ministry and helps with church operations. She also serves on the Hope International Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) which helps amplify the voice of athletes on campus by addressing their concerns and improving their college experience.  A GSAC and NAIA Scholar-Athlete, Jade has maintained a perfect 4.0 GPA throughout her first three years at HIU. She wants to become a classroom teacher and eventually a principal. Her coach, Jessica Yoder says, "Jade is extremely hard working and driven. She continues to hone her skills on the court, and she is an incredible example of what it means to be a Christian Student-Athlete (in that order). I am so proud to coach her and know her."

As captain of the Hope International University Men's Soccer team, senior defender Jesus Vargas emodies all five core values of the NAIA Champions of Character model. Off campus, Jesus volunteers with the Southern California Seahorses Soccer team, traveling and hosting soccer camps in Southern California, Sacramento and Mexico, sharing his faith with young refugees. He also helps with food donations at Skid Row in Los Angeles. A Criminal Justice major, Jesus maintains a 3.0 GPA and has begun the process to become a police officer. Jesus was named GSAC Player of the Year after leading the Royals to a GSAC regular season championship. Coach Joe Lurker says, "Jesus is special. From the first day I met him, I knew he had enormous potential. Not only is he the most decorated athlete in our men's soccer program history, but Jesus models outstanding academics and elite leadership. Considered a sports hero in his community, Jesus uses that platform to influence young kids to pursue excellence in all they do. I am so proud of the man Jesus has become and can't wait to see what else God has in store for him."

This annual award is named after former Commissioner Cliff Hamlow who served the conference from its inception in 1986 to 2012.  Dr. Hamlow was also a key leader in the creation of the NAIA's Champions of Character program.

Congratulations Jade and Jesus!