BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – For the third time in six seasons since joining the Mid-South Conference, the Shawnee State University women’s soccer program had a student-athlete win the Mid-South’s Champions of Character Award as Erin Phillips shared the honor with Campbellsville’s Rachel Veatch while Michaela Garner and Schuyler Jones obtained Second-Team All-MSC honors at the 2015 Mid-South Conference Banquet in Bowling Green, Ky. on Wednesday evening.
Phillips, who joins Teresa Welch and Kelley Bowles as the lone women’s soccer players in Shawnee State history to receive the honor, won the award based on her commitment to the five core values of the NAIA, which are integrity, respect, responsibility, sportsmanship and servant leadership.
On the field, Phillips has molded herself into one of Shawnee State’s strongholds on defense as the Mount Sterling, Ohio native used her work ethic and determination to mold herself from a freshman walk-on to a regular starter by her sophomore season.
During the last two years of her career with the Bears, Phillips has played and started in all 37 contests that Shawnee State has played in as the 5-7 defender has become a staple on the Bears’ backline.
Overall, Phillips has appeared in 66 games with Shawnee State and made her 50th career start in a 12-0 win against Kentucky Christian on Tuesday afternoon. In the final home game of her career with the Bears, Phillips added the first goal of her four-year career in kicking off a banner week for the senior.
Phillips’ durability on the field is only surpassed by her dedication off of the pitch, as the senior has been named to the Academic All-MSC team three times and is expected to be an NAIA Scholar-Athlete for the second season in a row en route to graduating with a degree in English AYA Education this coming spring.
In addition to those accolades, the senior has accomplished many more feats during her collegiate career with the Bears, as Phillips has been named to the Dean’s List or President’s List in every semester eligible at Shawnee State while also being a member of the Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society for the past three years.
Phillips has also proven to be a leader in the Portsmouth community, as the senior founded Revive Student Ministry, has participated as a camp counselor at the Scioto Hills Christian Camp for two years, and was a four-year participant at the MLK Day of Service, Kick for Crohn’s, SOMC Paint it Pink, and Scioto County Crop Walk events among many other extracurricular activities.
In a powerful essay, Phillips eloquently stated what each of the five core values meant to her, including an immense example about responsibility and student leadership.
“Being a camp counselor has taught me what it means to be responsible and to be a servant leader, especially because each week I was in charge of approximately 10 middle school girls who looked up to me for guidance,” Phillips said. “Not only was I responsible for getting them places on time, but it was also my job to serve them and show them that the best way to be a leader is to be a servant. This idea also translates into being on a collegiate sports team. I work to be a leader through displaying sportsmanship, and by respecting my coach, teammates, and the officials each time I step on the field.”
Phillips concluded her essay by explaining how she would use the NAIA’s five core values as a high school teacher.
“These core character values will help me in my future as a high school teacher because I will strive to be fair to each student by respecting their ideas, and will work to show them what it means to be a true leader by serving them and encouraging them,” Phillips said. “I will work to teach them the value of responsibility and fairness by making them active citizens in my classroom. Overall, a lot can be learned and experienced through practicing each of these core values.”
In making his point for why he felt Phillips deserved the award, Shawnee State women’s soccer head coach Rob Appell explained the qualities that made the senior defender a captain and a leader to turn to.
“While representing SSU, Erin has taken on great responsibility and has exemplified sportsmanship, leadership, and professionalism to her teammates, coaches, and opponents on a daily basis,” Appell said. “She has done everything we have ever asked all four years of her career. Not only has she done these things, she has done them with pride, determination, and integrity. This has allowed Erin to transition from a walk on player as a freshman to a senior captain who has started each and every game over the final two seasons of her career.”
Phillips was not the only Shawnee State player to earn honors at the 2015 Mid-South Conference banquet, as Schuyler Jones and Michaela Garner also took home Second-Team All-MSC honors for the Bears.
In playing in 75 games – with 69 starts – Jones has put together 47 goals and 15 assists for her career to accumulate 109 points – good for second all-time in points and goals while placing in a tie for seventh all-time in assists. In 2015, Jones recorded 14 goals and two assists to record a .255 goals-per-shot percentage.
During her inaugural year with Shawnee State, Garner recorded 99 saves and a .707 save percentage as the freshman from Heath, Ohio recorded four shutouts on the season – including blanks in her first career games against Rochester (Mich.) and Ohio Valley (W. Va.). The goalkeeper currently sits 41st in the NAIA with her aforementioned 99 saves, behind three efforts where the freshman had 10 or more stops on the year.