With its fifth consecutive Directors’ Cup win, Azusa Pacific joins an elite group of colleges that have achieved five or more consecutive wins in their respective associations: Stanford University, Grand Valley State University (Mich.), Simon Fraser University (B.C.), and Williams College (Mass.).
What does this mean? Just another trophy to add to the collection? For APU, it’s an opportunity to recognize the hard work and achievements of the champions behind the cup. Men and women who demonstrate more than just athletic prowess, but model character both on and off the field, court, track...you name it.
Meet a few of our Directors’ Cup Champions:
Jill Baker – Women’s Volleyball
Making the choice to come to Azusa Pacific was in itself a demonstration of Jill Baker’s perseverance and character. Her older brother passed away while he was a student at APU. Now Jill is a 2-time NAIA All-American outside hitter on the university’s volleyball team, and a leader among her peers. This team is a family, and when Jill’s mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, she and her teammates donned pink shirts in matches as a sign of support and awareness.
Men’s Soccer Team
Last fall, APU’s defending national champion men’s soccer team prepared to face Westmont in the conference title match when Westmont’s campus was hit by the Tea Fire. Rather force Westmont forfeit the game due to the fire, APU worked to postpone the match, allowing Westmont the opportunity to regroup and travel together to Azusa. When Westmont eventually arrived on campus, Azusa Pacific offered housing and food to the team and students who traveled for the game. In the end, Westmont won, claiming a victory that meant all the more in the midst of tragedy.
Kristie Hala’ufia – Women’s Basketball
Kristie Hala’ufia spent her first two seasons on APU’s women’s basketball team watching from the sidelines trying to improve her academic record. The live game experience she patiently waited for, however, seemingly crashed to the floor in Jackson, Tenn., less than halfway into the Cougars’ NAIA opening-round tilt with Southern Nazarene. Hala’ufia suffered a painful ankle sprain. Despite the injury, Hala’ufia insisted on playing through the pain to help lead Azusa Pacific to the 65-55 first-round victory.
Titus Lester – Baseball
Titus Lester, a fifth-year senior, was appearing in just the second NAIA postseason contest of his career. The 6-foot-1 first baseman had been left off the postseason roster in his 2007 junior campaign and redshirted the 2008 campaign, missing Azusa Pacific’s first NAIA World Series appearances in 23 years. In 2009 Lester competed for spots before settling into his role as a late-innings defensive replacement. With his team’s season on the line, Lester snared a line-drive rocket down the first-base line in the biggest moment of his collegiate career, sending the Cougars into the NAIA Opening Round tournament championship game.
Dustin McBride – Men’s Soccer
During his time at APU, Dustin was part of several Directors’ Cups as a member of the men’s soccer team. While still a Cougar, he traveled to Zambia on a missions team in summer 2004. During the trip, Dustin taught in schools, volunteered in local orphanages, and played on soccer teams. The trip made such an impact that he and fellow APU alumnus Vaughn Spethmann went back to Zambia following graduation to start Zambikes, a for-profit organization they hope to make self-sustainable to provide work and bikes for Zambians.
Dustin Fortenberry – Football
Clay LeBrun woke up one morning asking God for a sign that He was real, and what he got was Azusa Pacific offensive lineman Dustin Fortenberry giving LeBrun’s young son an official Major League baseball. Though they had never met, Fortenberry and the LeBrun family sat near each other at San Diego Padre game, and when Fortenberry snagged a ball that came into the stands, he turned and gave it to LeBrun's son, igniting a renewed passion Clay to discover why a college student would have such unique character as to give away a prized possession to a perfect stranger.