The Precedent

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‘Character Matters’ implemented across all CUSD athletic programs

#56 Reilly Gauman(12) helps up opposing Highland player

#56 Reilly Gauman(12) helps up opposing Highland player

Kennedy Wagner

Kennedy Wagner

#56 Reilly Gauman(12) helps up opposing Highland player


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A person’s character can say a lot about them. It can shed light on how they were raised, if they are a team player, and can even foreshadow who they might be in the future.

Sound character is extremely important on any team, and in the wake of the Hamilton High School football hazing incident, character has become a more prominent issue in the Chandler Unified School District.

For the 2017-18 school year, district officials introduced a company whose mission is to help build character in its athletes and coaches — Character Matters — and will use their curriculum in order to improve athletes on-and-off the field.

Athletic Director Jennifer Burks has been waiting for a program like this for a couple years now because in her words, “We don’t do sports at the high school level just for the athletic endeavor itself.”

Sports at the high school level are called educational athletics, stated by Burks, so along with advancing a player’s talent a coach is supposed to advance their character. Taylor Jobe, varsity girls basketball player says, ”Sports shaped me into the person I am, it shaped my character”. Coaches have a job where they have the rare chance to help mold students into genuinely good people and teaching traits is a smart way to do it.

Last year, Burks had the varsity boys and girls basketball team “pilot” the program. Head Varsity Basketball coach Sam Duane states, “character is extremely important in anything you do,” he added, “there’s a huge correlation between character and success.” He is all for the material being taught. This year is different, however, because of the fact that the district is implementing the program for all athletic programs in all of the Chandler schools, grades 7-12.  

Burks goes into detail about how the program was accepted: “All the athletic directors and at least one coach from each school got together to vote on two different presentations.” The two choices were Character Matters and Positive Coach Alliance.

Principal Dan Serrano is big on pride and representing the school as best as the students can. Though Serrano has not been through training for Character Matters, he is “not opposed to it and [likes] the results of it so far.”

Varsity football quarterback Brock Purdy understands the importance of the program: “a lot of people look up to athletes as role models.” An athlete always needs to be on their best behavior

Character Matters uses the acronym “Go The Distance” to teach 13 different character traits to athletes.

For example, varsity football assistant coach Chance Clatterbuck has already taught “tenacious” in their mandatory 30 minute, weekly sessions. Clatterbuck, along with most of the coaches know how important it is to intertwine character and skill on the field.

“Character comes into play on the field with teammates trusting each other, playing for one another, and being a unit,” he said. As a former U.S. Marine, Clatterbuck has a lot of experience with character and teamwork, and those experiences help pay dividends on the field and in the community.

Character is the mental and moral qualities an individual possesses. People’s character affects their whole life. Learning traits like humility and discipline will be very useful in these athletes future lives, personal and professional. 

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‘Character Matters’ implemented across all CUSD athletic programs