KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- On the eve of the 76th Annual NAIA Men's Basketball Tournament in Kansas City, Westmont's Cooper Damron was honored as one of five Pattison Family Foundation Scholarship Award winners. The five recipients were chosen from among the 32 Champions of Character representatives honored at the NAIA Men's Basketball Tournament Banquet – one from each school represented in the tournament.


The honorees were announced by Emily Pattison and presented with the award by Dr. Phil and Mary Pattison. The Pattison's have long supported the NAIA, serving as honorary coaches for 33 years. This year, they are the honorary coaches for Westmont.


On Monday night, the Pattison's met with the team and graciously offered words of advice and support for the upcoming tournament. In their 33 years as honorary coaches, four of their teams have won the national championship, including fellow GSAC member Concordia last year.


The Champions of Character program, the hallmark of the NAIA, seeks to encourage the development of character in student-athletes through five core values – integrity, respect, responsibility, sportsmanship and servant leadership.

In nominating Damron, John Moore wrote, "In my 25 years as a head coach, he is one of the finest leaders I have ever had. Cooper is humble, hardworking and hungry and leads with his actions and his words. I am very proud to say I learn from his leadership daily."


Among Damron's acts of service enumerated by Moore were starting a faith based group for his teammates, leading worship at his church, volunteering for the United Way and running a summer camp for underprivileged kids in Carpinteria.


The Warriors (25-7) will open tournament play on Wednesday at 1:15 p.m. CDT, 11:15 a.m. PDT when they take on Martin Methodist of Tennessee (20-10) in first round play.