On Wednesday, October 29, former College of the Ozarks men’s basketball player Nathane Simniok was recognized at the NAIA Champions of Character Foundation Awards Luncheon held at the Convention Center in Kansas City. The event, where golf legend Tom Watson was the keynote speaker, recognized a Company, Citizen, Coach, High School Student-Athlete, and Collegiate Student-Athlete of Character.
As the sole Collegiate Student-Athlete of Character Award recipient, Simniok was applauded for his overall character, but most particularly related to an event which took place during the Bobcats conference playoffs last year against Oklahoma Wesleyan. At a critical point in a win-or-go-home game, the referee awarded the ball to the Bobcats on an out-of-bounds call, but reversed the call after Simniok immediately informed the referee that he last touched the ball. While it seems a minor event, the action reflected Simniok’s integrity in a circumstance where no one would have been the wiser had he remained silent.
Nathane Simniok grew up in Forsyth, Mo., and joined the Bobcats in 2012. In his senior season, Nathane led the Bobcats in field goal percentage (.620, 6th in the Nation), rebounds (251), blocks (34) and points (592). His best game, against conference-rival Bellevue, Simniok scored 38 points while making 15 of 21 field goals and scoring his 1,000th point. He averaged 17.9 points per game that season while leading the Bobcats to the NAIA Division II National Tournament Quarterfinals. Simniok’s accolades included the 2014 All MCAC Team, MCAC Scholar Athlete, NAIA All-American Scholar Athlete, NAIA Champions of Character Award, NAIA Honorable Mention All-American, and NAIA All-Tournament team.
While his stats were impressive during his two-year stint as a Bobcat, more importantly Nathane was a leader for the Bobcats off the court as well. Simniok participated in numerous service projects with the Bobcats, including reading to elementary school classrooms and working with Champion Athletes of the Ozarks. Simniok also traveled to Belize with Coach Shepherd, a couple teammates, and members of the College’s nursing program, where students worked tirelessly to meet the needs of those less fortunate.