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VOL. 128 | NO. 74 | Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Jeremy Park

The Heart and Soul in Sports

By Jeremy Park

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Last week we spotlighted St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, which is a world leader in the fight against childhood cancer and other deadly diseases. This week let us discuss an organization that is making a positive, and eternal, impact in the arena of athletics: the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), founded in 1954, is the largest interdenominational, school-based, Christian sports ministry in America. Our local chapter, the Memphis Area FCA, has been active since the mid-1970s and serves middle schools, high schools and colleges throughout Shelby County. They serve males and females of all races and all economic conditions, in both public and private schools, from the outskirts of the county to the inner city. Memphis Area FCA currently works with 59 campuses and, with additional volunteers and resources, has the potential to impact many more of our schools.

FCA works through what they call the Four C’s: Campus, Coaches, Camps and Community. Their “Campus” Ministry includes team ministry, as well as regular student-initiated and student-led meetings that are typically held on-campus. Through the team ministry, adult volunteers serve as mentors for athletes who many times do not have a good family life or proper role models. Just by being there and investing their time, volunteers are able to build relationships that help instill good character traits such as FCA’s core values of integrity, serving, teamwork and excellence. Memphis FCA’s fastest-growing aspect of Campus ministry is with females, due to a new program called “FCA Virtuous Woman,” which was birthed and developed by Alex Hagler and Kristy Makris of Memphis FCA’s staff. It involves a gender-specific curriculum, teaching character traits of women in the Bible.

Recognizing the tremendous role that “Coaches” play in the lives of youth, FCA offers numerous programs and resources aimed at support and training. These include prayer support, Bible studies, retreats, special events and regular staff visits. “Camps” entail both local and national times of “inspiration and perspiration” that provide athletic training, competition, clinics, top-notch speakers, small-group sessions, leadership training and more. Scholarship support is raised locally to assist deserving students attending national FCA camps.

The last C, “Community,” includes special events and partnerships with local churches and individuals who desire to invest in the lives of athletes and coaches. With a dedicated staff of only five, our Memphis Area FCA depends on a large number of volunteers to work with our area campuses. So, becoming a volunteer is a powerful way to help their efforts. On Tuesday, April 30, FCA’s Spring Rally will feature Hall of Fame Coach Gene Stallings. This annual fundraising event will be held at Bellevue Baptist Church at 6:30 p.m. and is the perfect opportunity to learn more about FCA. Visit www.MemphisFCA.org or call 683-3399 for more information.

Jeremy Park, director of the Lipscomb Pitts Breakfast Club, can be reached at jeremyp@lpinsurance.com and followed on Twitter (@lpbreakfastclub) and Facebook (facebook.com/lpbreakfastclub).

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