CHAMP, a nonprofit 501c3 organization, is a community-wide effort focused on promoting positive character as an integral component of our student-athletes’ success, both on the athletic field and in life. It is CHAMP’s intent to positively impact all 14,000 student-athletes and over 2000 youth coaches in the greater Fort Collins area every year.
In March 2006, a Blue Ribbon Task Force (BRTF) of community leaders was formed to review the state of youth athletics in Fort Collins and to make recommendations about how to bring a focus on character to our community’s youth athletic teams and organizations. The founding organizations of the BRTF were the Colorado State University Athletic Department, the Poudre School District, the City of Fort Collins, the Healthier Communities Coalition of Larimer County and Character Fort Collins. One of the BRTF’s recommendations was to form a cross-community Commission to develop and implement a character based team recognition program called CHAMP (Character in Athletics – Make it a Priority). The CHAMP Commission was formed in June of 2006 and Ken Schraderbegin was chosen to lead the new organization as the CHAMP Commissioner. From early 2007 through mid-2010, the CHAMP Organization operated under the non-profit umbrellas of first Character Fort Collins and then later the Community Foundation of Northern Colorado as it continued to build awareness and momentum in the community for its mission. In late 2009, CHAMP incorporated as Character in Athletics, Inc. doing business as CHAMP with the State of Colorado. In mid-2010 CHAMP was granted its independent 501(c)(3) non-profit statuses by the IRS. The CHAMP Organization continues to operate today as a volunteer organization with community-wide representation. CHAMP believes that the work of a broad network of community volunteers who embody the aspirations of the original CHAMP founders can and will have significant positive impact on the 14,000 young people actively participating in organized sports in Fort Collins; the ripple benefit of this impact will influence our community at large.
In January 2008, CHAMP held its first annual community and fund-raising breakfast, the Breakfast of CHAMPions, at the City of Fort Collins Lincoln Center. Keli McGregor, President of the Colorado Rockies and Sonny Lubick, legendary former CSU football coach and a recognized “coach of character” were featured to help launch CHAMP to the community. The annual Sonny Lubick Coach of Character Award was initiated and given to Sonny. $40,000 was raised to help launch CHAMP to the community. The now annual Breakfast of CHAMPions has become a favorite gathering of the Fort Collins youth athletic community to celebrate and recognize outstanding character in our youth athletes, coaches and teams.