FLORENCE, Ky. — University of Rio Grande senior women’s basketball player Sarah Bonar is the 2015-16 female recipient of the KIAC’s Bill Melton Champion of Character Award.
A native of Hartford, Ohio, Bonar was the leading scorer for the RedStorm this past year as well as a CoSIDA Academic All-America First Team selection and a very active community service volunteer.
“I feel very honored to have been chosen and I appreciate the chance to represent the KIAC in this way,” Bonar said. “It has been a privilege to be a collegiate athlete at Rio and to be a part of something much larger than myself. I can’t thank the athletic department and the coaching staff enough for all of their help and putting me in the right place to be successful.”
The KIAC’s Bill Melton Champion of Character Award is named after the former KIAC commissioner, who was in that role for many years and up through July 2015. The award is modeled after the NAIA’s Dr. Leroy Walker Award and promotes and recognizes the core values of the NAIA’s Champions of Character program which are respect, responsibility, integrity servant leadership and sportsmanship.
Nominations are made by KIAC member athletic departments, and voting is conducted by the KIAC awards committee, which a group made up of athletic directors, coaches and sports information directors around the conference. One male and one female recipient of the Bill Melton Champion of Character Award will be selected each year.
On the court, Bonar ranked third in the KIAC in scoring at 17.7 ppg this past year. A 5-11 forward, she ranked second in the conference in field-goal percentage at 49.4 percent and was an all-conference first-team selection.
Academically, she boasted a 3.94 GPA majoring in biology and biomedical and minoring in chemistry. That earned her one of the five spots on the prestigious CoSIDA College Division Academic All-America First Team and another NAIA-Daktronics Scholar-Athlete nod.
In the community, Bonar was very active. She volunteered at many outlets such as with the Buckeye Hills Recreational Program, the Senior Citizens Outreach Program, the Hartford Optimist Club, the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army to name a few.
She provided leadership as a Champions of Character spokeswoman on athletic recruiting days at Rio Grande where the NAIA’s five core values are discussed with potential recruits. She was also a member of the Rio Grande’s Leadership Council and the KIAC Association of Student-Athletes.
“Sarah embodies the definition of “servant leadership” putting the team above oneself, not only in sports but in the community and personal life as well,” Rio Grande women’s basketball coach Dave Smalley said in Bonar’s nomination for the award. “Sarah has been the most complete, trustworthy, responsible, caring, nurturing and mentoring team captain in all my 24 years of coaching at Rio Grande.”
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.