Richards Named Les Schwab Coach of Character

EUGENE, Ore. – Bushnell University’s Tommy Richards was named the 2023-24 Cascade Collegiate Conference Coach of Character, announced Friday by the conference office.

Coaches who represent the core values of the NAIA – Respect, Responsibility, Integrity, Sportsmanship and Servant Leadership – were nominated and voted on by the CCC’s athletic directors, and the Beacons’ Baseball coach has embodied those core values. Richards is the second Bushnell coach to receive the prestigious honor from the conference, joining women’s basketball coach Chad Meadors in 2021.

“Our baseball team is a direct reflection of Coach Tommy Richards. He continues to represent Bushnell University and our Athletics department at the highest level both on and off the diamond. I cannot imagine anyone else coming in and having the positive impact that he has had in our community along with being a great mentor and role model for our baseball student-athletes,” stated Bushnell University Athletic Director, Corey Anderson.

In three short years, Tommy Richards has made an indelible impact on not only the Bushnell baseball team, but the athletic department and the university as a whole. Tommy is a fearless leader, a well respected coach and recruiter, and with over 40 athletes under his leadership, has built a team culture strongly centered around Bushnell’s Tri-Athlete model (with equal focus on athletics, academics, and character development), which was reflected in the team’s selection as the Team Sportsmanship Award this season and the CCC Team of Character Award in 2022 and again this season.

Recent graduate and First-Team All-CCC selection Kyle Casperson said, “Tommy is the ultimate Coach of Character. He always acts by the Beacon model and expects us to do the same as players. He is dependable, organized, and lives a life that is respected by everyone. Coach is the greatest role model of character.”

Under his direction, the Baseball team has established itself as a team of strong character, gaining a reputation on campus as men of integrity, respect, responsibility, sportsmanship and servant leadership. Richards’ focus and goal for his team is to grow men with a #BAM philosophy “Be a Man”, working to prepare young men for their future roles. His coaching pillars are passion, unity, thankfulness, humility, and service, all of which are evident within the team culture and success we have seen on and off the field. Their character-related focus includes a team rule to sit in the “Power T” in all of their classes (first two rows or directly in the middle of the class), which has contributed to a 3.33 combined GPA as a result.

Junior Brandon Reed said, “Coach Richards has been a great role model of character for me and our entire team. He has taught us by example how to be great sons, students, athletes, and most importantly, young men of character.”

The team has been involved in numerous community service projects, averaging close to 20 hours of service per athlete throughout the year. The team volunteered on campus move-in day, helping first-time collegiate students move into their dorm rooms. As part of Bushnell’s “Embrace the Community Day” in the fall, the team worked for Food for Lane County at their Grassroots Garden. The team was also a key contributor to a FOOD For Lane County canned food drive, which collected over 2000 pounds of non-perishables for the most needy in our community. Their efforts to help those in need expanded to four other separate projects preparing Weekend food boxes for Springfield HS and the Eugene School District, preparing Thanksgiving boxes for Hamilin Middle School, and buying Christmas presents as part of the athletic department Adopt-a-Family program.

In just the third year as a program, Bushnell qualified for the CCC post-season for the first time, won the CCC Tournament by beating LC State twice on the road, and qualified for their first NAIA National Championship Tournament. Baseball was also named Bushnell’s Co-Team of the Year, an honor earned for a team with athletic success but more importantly for having success the right way and for being an example to other teams. The baseball culture is a direct reflection of their Coach of Character, and contributes greatly to their success.

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