Rome, Ga. – With the Saint Xavier University football team set to make its first appearance in the title game of the NAIA Football Championship Series (FCS) Saturday afternoon, senior defensive tackle Patrick Appino (Rockford, Ill./Rockford Boylan) recently learned that he was named the team's "Champion of Character" representative for the 2011 campaign. The "Champions of Character" process is designed to instill an understanding of character values in sport and provide practical tools for student-athletes, coaches and parents to use in modeling exemplary character traits. Through this process, the NAIA seeks to replace the current cycle of cheating, trash talking, taunting and out of control behaviors found in today's sports culture with integrity, respect, responsibility, sportsmanship and servant leadership. During each postseason, qualifiers of the NAIA FCS select a player to represent the team as a "Champion of Character."
"Pat is the epitome of what the ‘Champions of Character' award is all about," said SXU football coach Mike Feminis. "His individual accolades (three-time MSFA All-League recognition) speak for themselves, but Pat is a selfless individual who only cares about the success of the team. From a character standpoint, he's among the best kids that I've ever had the pleasure of coaching. Pat's a ‘Yes sir, no sir' type of young man who will do whatever is asked of him without complaint.
"I'm just so happy that he'll be following in his father's footsteps (Dan Appino is the head football coach at Rockford Boylan High School) to pursue a career in teaching and coaching, because he will be outstanding. Pat has a tremendous future ahead of him and I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to coach him."
Appino is one of the defensive standouts on the Cougars. He is currently second on the team in tackles for losses (15.0), sacks (7.0), fumble recoveries (3), forced fumbles (2) and pass break-ups (6). Appino is tied for the school's career record for blocked kicks (6), third all-time in career sacks (20.5) and fourth on the career tackles for losses list (41.5).
Saint Xavier (13-1 overall/4-1 MSFA) is in Rome, Ga., for the school's first national championship appearance on Saturday, December 17. The national championship game is scheduled for a 4:30 p.m. (eastern) at Barron Stadium in Rome. The game will be televised live on CBS Sports Network and will also be broadcast locally on WXAV 88.3 FM Chicago or at www.wxav.com.