|Merrell Receives NCCAA Character Award|
GREENVILLE, S.C. — Grace College’s Dayton Merrell has been selected to receive the Inaugural NCCAA Game Plan 4 LIFE (GP4L) Character Award for men’s athletics. Merrell, a junior math major from Fort Wayne, is a respected leader on the Grace College Lancers’ basketball team, on the campus and beyond the campus community.
The purpose of the Game Plan 4 LIFE Character Award is to recognize NCCAA student-athletes who epitomize the Christian character qualities of love, integrity, faith and excellence.
• Love — He serves others rather than himself and practices the Golden Rule as a servant leader to his team. The team policy is that rookies carry equipment off the bus, yet Merrell is the first to grab a piece of team gear and carry it into the building. He supported and encouraged his sister during a family crisis, reaching out to her with true love. Merrell’s love for his schoolmates and their salvation drives him to express his faith and challenge them to be saved.
• Integrity —Merrell is defined by Grace College’s coach Jim Kessler as “a man of complete integrity and is trustworthy in all that he does and says.” He will take a stand for what is right even when it is unpopular. The integrity that is lived out in his everyday life defines him as a leader on campus and is respected and followed by his peers on and off the court. His integrity is displayed in humility as he is quick to give credit to those deserving and to not just accept accolades for himself.
• Faith — Merrell’s faith is lived so that others see it, even opposing teams. Greg Tonagel, coach of the Indiana Wesleyan University men’s basketball team, says, “Dayton has a passion for Jesus Christ and is excited to share that with others. He tells you that the backbone of his life is his faith in Christ.” Missions trips and outreach have been a large part of Merrell’s life, sharing Christ through his gift of basketball. He has served as a spiritual mentor to others through the Orlando Project. Dr. Mark Soto, Professor of Theological Studies at Grace College, stated, “[Dayton’s] life is not one of casual Christianity but rather one of intentional pursuit of Christ in all his classes, his sport, and his relationships.”
• Excellence — Merrell has experienced persistent back problems but has pushed through with intensity and excellence that goes beyond his physical abilities. Whether in the classroom, where he carries a 3.3 accumulative GPA, or on the court, where he has received numerous athletic accolades, or in ministry, where he was selected as team leader of the Orlando Project, Merrell strives for and serves with excellence in every aspect of his life. His work ethic not only pushes him to improve daily, it encourages his teammates and those around him to improve as well.
Headquartered in Greenville, S.C., the NCCAA strives to promote the gospel of Jesus Christ through its 22 National Championships and 3 National Invitationals.
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