Olympian Kicks Off Fall Champions of Character Season at Cornerstone University

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Dathan Ritzenhein will be the featured speaker for the Champions of Character program themed "Run with Purpose." The three-time national cross country champion competes for Nike.

Three-time Olympian long distance runner and Rockford native, Dathan Ritzenhein, will be the featured speaker at the Annual Champions of Character Fall Pre-Season Kick-Off at Cornerstone University’s Hansen Athletic Center.

Ritzenhein (Ritz) will speak on the theme “Run With A Purpose” on Monday, Aug. 19 at 6:30 p.m. on campus. The free event is open to West Michigan high school teams and their coaches.

Ritz is a 5k American Record holder and a three-time Olympian who graduated from Rockford High School in 2001. During high school he set numerous track records during his junior and senior years. He holds six national championships, was the bronze medalist at the World Half Marathon in 2009 and placed sixth in the World Championship 10k.

“If I’m a high school distance runner, I would say being able to hear a three-time Olympian who’s a former U.S. record holder is kind of a big deal,” said Mike Reimersma, director of the program and Cornerstone University assistant athletic director.

Ritz will encourage and inspire high school students and their coaches to become athletes with exceptional character and sportsmanship who are at the top of their game.

“Anytime that you’re able to listen to people as successful as Ritzenhein talk about their experiences and how character impacts their decisions, what they do, and how they approach what they do is a great opportunity,” said Reimersma.

The purpose of Champions of Character is to train students, coaches and parents in values that build character so they can make the right decisions on and off the field.

The five core values of Champions of Character are integrity, respect, responsibility, sportsmanship and servant leadership.

The free kick-off event is open to the public.

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Kelli Cottrell
since: 11/2009
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