More than 300 area high school football players spent three days at UNC Charlotte recently as part of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes’ first summer sports camp in the Charlotte region.The catch? The event wasn’t really about the sport.Players ran drills and practices during the day, honing their skills and athleticism. When they were off the field, FCA leaders and guest speakers talked to them about God and setting priorities.“The reality is that life is bigger than football,” said Mark Talbot, metro director for FCA Charlotte.Talbot began working in Charlotte in 2011, meeting with coaches and hiring staff to expand FCA in the region. The Fellowship of Christian Athletes was founded in 1954 as a way for athletes and coaches to use their influence to spread a Christian message. The organization now operates chapters nationwide at middle schools, high schools and colleges.FCA has seven staff members working at schools in the Charlotte region and five more slated to start in the fall.The football camp signals the end of what Talbot considers “chapter one” of FCA’s work in Charlotte. The ministry is poised to expand on the groundwork laid in the past two years.All backgrounds includedThe schools and coaches participating in the FCA Team Camp included Central Academy of Technology and Arts, Garinger, Marvin Ridge, South Mecklenburg, Myers Park and Albemarle. They stayed in dormitories at UNC Charlotte, shared meals and attended evening worship and talks from former NFL player Chris “Shep” Shepherd.Shepherd delivered a message that applied to all.“The second night, he talked about basically getting the big things right first,” Talbot said. “(Shepherd) spoke of getting their relationship with God right early on, and in addition to that, deciding what their priorities were going to be.”Coaches and players commented on the spiritual aspect of FCA Team Camp.“This has been the greatest experience,” said Ryan Alston, Garinger High School head football coach. “There were spectacular speakers. It pricked all of our hearts and helped us understand we can achieve every endeavor if we put God first.”Talbot collected Twitter comments from players who attended the camp.“Thank you so much at team camp,” a Marvin Ridge player wrote on Twitter. “I was lost and didn’t have no one to go to but you made me realize that God is always there!”A time to bondCoaches also praised the unity the camp formed among teammates as they played football, sang worship music and learned about God.“The bond you create at a camp like this is unbelievable,” said Tad Baucom, head football coach at Central Academy of Technology and Arts in Monroe.FCA plans to establish ministries in more schools in the region as it adds staff. The ministry is known for its weekly “huddles,” voluntary meetings that can include worship music, a Bible lesson and time to hang out.Bryan Woodell, FCA area director, said the interest level for the initial Team Camp had been high long before the camp was held.“(Several coaches) had been asking, ‘When are you going to do a camp for us?’” Woodell said. “One reason we did this was because we almost couldn’t not do it.”
Friday, Jul. 05, 2013
FCA Camp draws players from the region
Learn more: For information about FCA Charlotte, visit www.northcarolinafca.org/greater-charlotte.
Marty Minchin is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Marty? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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