FCA offers student athletes, coaches positive life lessons

Hidden Cleveland

By CHRISTY ARMSTRONG  Banner Staff Writer
Posted 9/8/16

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes of the Ocoee Region has been working to help student athletes and their coaches learn positive life lessons through their commitment to sports.

Robert Green, …

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FCA offers student athletes, coaches positive life lessons

Hidden Cleveland

Posted

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes of the Ocoee Region has been working to help student athletes and their coaches learn positive life lessons through their commitment to sports.

Robert Green, regional director for FCA, said the organization’s many programs try to “reach the heart behind the jersey.”

“The platform we have to talk about Christ through sports is huge,” Green said. “All the kids, parents, grandparents throughout the country touched by sports … the number is literally in the millions.”

FCA is an optional extracurricular program offered at schools and colleges throughout the world, with chapters in 47 different countries.

Locally, there are FCA groups available in all public middle and high schools in the Bradley County and Cleveland school systems, as well as at Tennessee Christian Preparatory School. There is also a collegiate chapter at Lee University.

All told, there are 19 active groups in FCA of the Ocoee Region’s four-county service area. This includes groups at two Polk County schools — Chilhowee Middle School and Polk County High School — and groups in McMinn County and Meigs County.

Green said student athletes and coaches have opportunities to take part in a variety of FCA programs to help them have a positive mindset about sports — and life in general.

For example, participants discuss competition and how it can affect how people view and treat each other.

“Rivalry can be healthy, but it can also be destructive,” Green said.

Ideally, he said rivalry should be used to help bring out the best in one’s teammates and opponents. However, he noted we as a society have been known to fall into the trap of being hateful toward opponents “just because we wear different laundry.” 

The FCA’s lessons try to communicate these concepts using Bible verses like Proverbs 27:17: “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” 

FCA describes its programs using the “Four C’s” — coaches, campus, camp and community.

Coaches can take part in optional training and discipleship programs offered by FCA. There are opportunities for coaches to gather Bible studies with their professional peers, and they can also take part in leadership training sessions.

“Our programs are offered to and through the coaches,” Green said. “They have the biggest influence in setting the tone for their teams. We talk a lot about having a positive team culture. Culture is every bit as important as doing well in the sport.” 

Campus ministry, however, is where most people tend to participate in FCA.

Student athletes at schools with FCA groups, or “huddles,” meet regularly to hear a Christian message and interact with their peers. Typically, these optional meetings take place one morning a week before school starts for the day.

Free resources are also offered to students so they can lead Bible study groups for their own teams. Gender-based curriculum is offered so girls’ groups can learn how to be “women of God” and boys can learn to be “men of God” as they pursue athletics.

“This is all student-led,” Green said. “These are student leaders inviting their peers to study the Bible with them.” 

Once summer rolls around, FCA shifts its focus to camps. Students can take part numerous camps offered across the county to help them develop their skills in specific sports. While camps for common sports like football and baseball are offered, camps offered throughout the United States also reach students practicing less common sports, like surfing.

Though all these programs are faith-based, Green said FCA programs teach character traits which would benefit any student or coach. He said he hopes that those who do take part will have a positive influence on those around them.

The final “C” — community — is as important as the other three, said Green.

Ministers from several local churches volunteer with the program, making these community members a valuable part of it.

FCA also tries to provide events for the community centered around sports and the Christian faith.

The next local community event is Fields of Faith. It takes place Wednesday, Sept. 28, at 6:30 p.m. in the Raider Arena at Cleveland High School.

The event will serve as a community worship service and will feature a talk from Christian evangelist Tony Eubanks. Attendees will also be treated to a performance by Court Kingz, an exhibition basketball team known for its difficult tricks.

In addition to the programs for students and coaches, the local FCA chapter has also started an Adult Chapter, which meets for monthly luncheons. During each meeting, students and coaches share stories of their Christian faith and FCA involvement, and attendees learn how they can support the organization.

The next luncheon takes place on Thursday, Sept. 22, at noon. It will be in the John Nichols Room located in the basement of the chapel at Lee University.

Green said the luncheon is free for anyone in the community who wants to learn more about FCA. However, one must RSVP ahead of time by calling 423-284-5908 or 423-284-0105.

For more information about the local FCA chapter and its programs, visit its website, www.ocoeefca.org.

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