Loyola baseball’s Payton Alexander wins prestigious NAIA Champions of Character award
by Camal Petro
Loyola baseball’s Alexander wins NAIA Dr. LeRoy Walker Award
The NAIA honored senior Payton Alexander Wednesday with the prestigious Champions of Character award
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Loyola University New Orleans baseball senior, Payton Alexander, had an unforgettable 2021 season, and it just got more memorable. The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) announced its national award winners Wednesday, selecting Alexander as the Dr. LeRoy Walker Champions of Character award recipient.
The Dr. LeRoy Walker Champions of Character Award for student-athletes is one of the most prestigious awards in the NAIA and was created in association with the National Sports Foundation, a group of sports organizations that promote and recognize sportsmanship. Dr. Walker was a former president of the NAIA and president emeritus of the U.S. Olympic Committee. The award honors outstanding student-athletes for their academics, athletics, leadership and dedication to living the core values of Champions of Character.
Wednesday’s announcement adds to a long list of accomplishments for Alexander, too. The Prairieville, Louisiana, native was picked as the Southern States Athletic Conference Player of the Year and Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year after his phenomenal 2021 season. He was also selected as an NAIA All-American as well as chosen to the All-Louisiana team.
Alexander was named the SSAC nomination for the Dr. LeRoy Walker award in July after Loyola Athletics put him up for nomination in June. Each conference selects one nominee to be considered for the NAIA’s overall winner, and nominees must have a GPA of 3.00 or better and have attained junior academic standings.
A biological sciences major, Alexander plans to pursue a career in medicine after his time at Loyola. With one more year of athletic eligibility, he picked up a psychology minor to prolong his bachelor’s degree, and he plans to take the MCAT this year to start the Medical School application process. While leading the Wolf Pack baseball team to a historic season, Alexander posted a 3.82 grade-point average last academic school year. The middle infielder led the team with a .387 batting average and he also broke the school record with 61 runs scored last season, while also hitting 12 doubles, 10 home runs with 52 RBI in his fourth season with the Wolf Pack.
Alexander is currently serving as the President of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee, and he’s also participated in two mission trips to San Jose, Belize to run camps for children to teach math, arts and sciences.
Behind Alexander, the Wolf Pack recorded their best season in program history, winning 36 games, claiming an SSAC Regular Season Championship and hosting an NAIA Opening Round tournament, all program-firsts. Helped by a 12-game winning streak, Loyola finished 36-15 overall and 16-2 in SSAC play and it finished the season No. 14 in the NAIA Top 25 Poll.
What they said
Loyola baseball head coach, Jeremy Kenedy:
“The character, integrity, and grit that Payton has displayed this year are simply incredible. He has managed an incredibly challenging workload academically while excelling to an SSAC Player of the Year and All-America Honorable Mention status on the baseball field. Payton is also a team leader who leads first by example and also second vocally. He has mentored many young players who see how he goes about his business first, and then second have been impacted by his mentorship.”
Associate Professor of Biological Sciences, Rosalie A. Anderson, Ph.D.:
“I have had the great pleasure of knowing Payton Michael Alexander as his advisor for his biology major, his professor, and his research mentor. Based on my experiences with Payton in the classroom, the lab, and knowing him as a person, I can say without hesitation that he ranks in the top 1 percent of students that I have taught in 20 years. His values, humility, talents, determination, sense of responsibility, and work ethic have made Payton a champion in the classroom and on the field. It has been my pleasure to know this young man.”
Loyola baseball teammate, Patrick Crifasi:
“I could not think of a person more deserving of the Dr. LeRoy Walker Champions of Character Award than Payton Alexander. Having had the honor of playing baseball with Payton, I am proud to not only call him my teammate, but a great friend of mine. I got to witness his tireless dedication to his craft not only on the field but off the field as well. To me there is no better example of a person who embodied the five core Champions of Character values than Payton was to me and to all of our teammates. As a man of integrity, Payton always stayed true to himself, committed to his goals, and stood up for what he believed in. While Payton was always a vocal leader on our team, it was his actions that spoke louder and drove all of us to be better in everything we did.”
Loyola Athletic Director, Brett Simpson:
“What a tremendous honor for an outstanding young man. Payton Alexander exemplifies both the five core values of the Champions of Character program and the Jesuit ideals on which Loyola was founded. A true person for others, Payton has been a driving force behind the competitive and academic success of our baseball team. We are thrilled that he has been recognized for his leadership.”
You can keep up with the Pack by following Wolf Pack Athletics on Facebook at Facebook.com/LoyolaWolfPack, Twitter and Instagram @LoyolaWolfPack, and by checking out our website at LoyolaWolfPack.com.
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