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A Brave Tradition: Ottawa University Baseball Champions Challenge

By Jon Painter
On February 24, 2017

Photo courtesy of

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” -- John 15:13

The Ottawa University Baseball team honors love and sacrifice at the start of every spring semester with a four-day team competition known as the “Champions Challenge.”

Ottawa University Head Baseball Coach Cory Blaine started the Champions Challenge in the spring of 2012 to honor his former teammate and Ottawa Brave baseball player Sgt. Glen Martinez (USMC) who died on May 2, 2008, due to an improvised explosive device in Iraq.

Blaine says he was in his sophomore year when Martinez came to Ottawa University in the fall of 1995 from Monte Vista, CO.

“Glen quickly made a name for himself as someone that was a max-effort guy in everything that he did. He was a great and loyal friend to those near him and always had an infectious smile on his face. Whatever you were doing was always better if he was involved, unless it was wrestling because he was an ex-wrestler and got a perverse pleasure from showing you his favorite moves,” Blaine said.

Blaine believes that Martinez was inspired by the events of 9/11, deciding to go a different direction after graduation from college.

“Glen was a guy that wanted to be where the action was so it wasn’t surprising that he chose the USMC,” Blaine said.

“The original goal of the Champions Challenge was to identify and celebrate those that could push themselves mentally and physically. Glen was a guy whose mental toughness was incredible. He just didn’t know how to quit, or even let up.”

In this year’s Champions Challenge there were 10 events that the Ottawa University baseball players competed in, earning points based on how they finished in comparison to their peers. These events consisted of a timed mile-and-a-half run, one minute to squat 225 lbs as many reps as possible, one minute to bench 155 lbs as many reps as possible and a two-handed bat toss.

There was also hanging on to a towel for as long as possible, a 200-yard PVC pipe push and a timed sprint while holding a 45 lb plate. Not all of the challenges were physical in nature as there was a written test of baseball knowledge and team systems as well as fall semester GPA comparison.

Cole Boardman, junior outfielder and pitcher from Little Rock, Arkansas, was the 2017 winner of the Champions Challenge. The pressure is on Boardman now as no winner of the Champions Challenge has repeated the victory the following year. 

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