In just one season, Rochester College Head Basketball coach Klint Pleasant has made his mark not only as a winning coach, but also as the leader of a team honored for its character on and off the court.
On June 1, the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) honored Coach Pleasant as the Association of Independent Institutions (AII) 2012 NAIA Coach of Character.
The A.I.I. Conference, made up of 34 college institutions throughout the United States, honors one coach each year whose program displays the NAIA five core values: Integrity, respect, responsibility, sportsmanship, and servant leadership. This honor carries extra value, as this past year was Rochester College's first year in the A.I.I. and NAIA.
Coach Pleasant is very honored to have been the recipient of this award. "We continue to be very grateful to the NAIA and the A.I.I. This award is humbling," said Coach Pleasant. "I had no idea. I am grateful for the nomination as well as being recognized from this association. I hope this will solidify our standing with the NAIA moving forward and bring some recognition to Rochester College."
The award has not only meant a great deal to Coach Pleasant and his basketball team. The award has shared meaning with Rochester College President Rubel Shelly. "This award means that Rochester College is being true to its mission," said Dr. Shelly. "We have promised to provide for the intellectual, social, and athletic development of the men and women who attend here in a Christian environment. Klint and his staff in the Athletic Department are following through on that promise. The award is certainly an honor for Coach Pleasant at a personal level. It is also and affirmation of everything we are doing as a Christian college."
Sticking to the mission of Rochester College has not been a tough task for Coach Pleasant as it is "the way" for him and his coaching staff. "The mission of Rochester College stands for all the things that end up making a team great like unselfishness, discipline, being on time, and giving your best. These are things we stand for," said Coach Pleasant.
Taking over for his father, Garth Pleasant, Coach Pleasant stated that he simply followed the blue print his dad had left. "We just kept doing the same things my dad did for 38 years," said Coach Pleasant. "The important thing has been the kind of student-athletes that we have recruited, guys who fit the personality and mission of the college. When these guys get here, we simply focus on the things that we think are important like servant leadership, leaving the locker room cleaner than how we found it, the way we act in restaurants and hotels, the way we act before and after a game. These are things that we are always talking about and are always emphasizing."
Throughout the year, the Warrior's basketball team does several team-building activities that Coach Pleasant feels has provided his team a chance to develop team chemistry. Coach Pleasant takes his team on retreats, to church, has his team sponsor a family during the holidays, and is always stressing the things that are more important than wins and losses. "Over time, the way we do things wears off on the guys. So really, this is an award for our team and for our guys and for the other coaches too because they all have embraced the Champions of Character attitude," said Coach Pleasant.
It is not uncommon for President Shelly to receive letters or phone calls regarding the great behavior of the RC basketball team. "When one fellow in the stands was expressing his pleasure and amazement that the team was policing the area around its bench for cups and trash, I just smiled and said, ‘That's the way of things with Coach Pleasant and his team.' More of his players are likely to remember these little things than all the game scores," said Dr. Shelly. "I count it a great honor to get to work with Coach Pleasant and to call him my friend."
"This award is a testament to our guys. I do not think you receive this award if your whole program is not presenting itself in an appropriate way. I really think this is an award that our guys have achieved due to the way they act," Coach Pleasant finished.
In order for Coach Pleasant to receive the Coach of Character award, a player had to write an essay on why they felt their coach should receive the award.