University of Nebraska running backs coach Ron Brown, former NFL quarterback Neil Lomax and Indianapolis Public Schools sports medicine services coordinator Kathy Malone Sparks have been named to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes Hall of Champions, Les Steckel, FCA’s president and CEO announced today.
FCA is the world’s largest Christian sports ministry.
“Ron, Neil and Kathy have modeled FCA’s values of integrity, serving, teamwork and excellence for decades,” Steckel said. “Their passion for impacting the world for Jesus Christ through athletics is contagious, and their commitment to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes over the years has been phenomenal. We are so pleased to welcome them into the Hall of Champions.”
Brown has served on NU’s coaching staff under both Bo Pelini and Tom Osborne for a combined 22 years. He spent four years as FCA’s State Director in Nebraska in between stints as a Cornhuskers assistant, and has been a contributing writer to FCA Magazine (formerly Sharing the Victory) for a decade. He formerly hosted FCA’s national radio program, Sharing the Victory, for two years and has been a frequent speaker at FCA events through the years.
Brown’s reputation as a man of exemplary and uncompromising Christian character put him in position last fall to help bring healing to the college football world. It was Brown, whose Cornhuskers were playing at Penn State in the Nittany Lions’ first contest after legal charges were filed against former PSU assistant Jerry Sandusky, who was invited by Penn State’s team to lead the two teams in prayer prior to kickoff of a nationally televised game.
Brown was a two-time All-Ivy League selection as a defensive back at Brown and is a member of the university’s All-Century Team and its Sports Hall of Fame.
Lomax is an assistant coach at Roosevelt High School who set multiple NCAA passing records as a quarterback at Portland State University before embarking on an All-Pro career in the National Football League.
He is currently in his fourth year as a volunteer assistant football coach at Roosevelt, assisting head coach Christian Swain with a Roughriders program that has improved from back-to-back 0-9 seasons in 2008 and 2009, respectively, to a 7-4 mark in 2011.
Lomax has served on local and state boards of directors for FCA for over 20 years, and he and his wife, Laurie, have raised significant amounts of money for the organization. Lomax, whose involvement with FCA dates back to his high school days, “has served as the face of FCA in Portland and the Pacific Northwest for many years,” according to Frank, vice president for field ministry in FCA’s Pacific Northwest region.
He was elected to the National Football Foundation College Football Hall of Fame in 1996.
Over the course of his eight-year NFL career, Lomax earned All-Pro honors in 1984 and 1987 and broke nearly every Cardinals single-season and single-game passing record. His 82.7 career passer rating places him 34th on the NFL’s all-time list.
Lomax was forced to retire as a player following the 1988 season due to chronic hip issues that later led to a total hip replacement. Following his playing career, he went on to work as a television commentator and was a regular on the Celebrity Players Tour, competing in several golf Pro-Am events across the country.
Along with her role as sports medicine services coordinator for IPS, Malone Sparks has also served as the chaplain for the Indiana Fever of the Women’s National Basketball Association since 2000. The Fever won the WNBA championship earlier this month.
In addition to a distinguished career as an athletic trainer that has led to honors from the National Athletic Trainers Association, Malone Sparks has been a champion for FCA for three decades, first as a student-athlete at the University of Delaware, where she played basketball and became a follower of Christ, then as a graduate student and club lacrosse player at Ball State University and finally in her career working with young people throughout Indiana.
For over 20 years, Malone Sparks volunteered for two weeks during the summer to take part in FCA camps, serving as a huddle leader, huddle leader coordinator, keynote speaker, chaplain and athletic trainer. In addition, she has raised funds to provide scholarships for student-athletes attending IPS schools for the camps.
Malone Sparks’ generosity and passion for IPS students led her to organize the FCA Inner City Girls Basketball Camp, a free weekly camp in which coaches volunteered their time to teach the game and share the Gospel. Campers were also provided with a free lunch, t-shirts and Bibles.
In 1998, Malone Sparks and fellow athletic trainers Angie Miller and Pete Just created FCA Student Athletic Trainer Camps, and again, Malone Sparks secured scholarships for attendees. She has also helped provide athletic trainers to FCA camps all over the country.
From 2003-06, Malone Sparks organized an FCA retreat for inner city IPS students, raising the funds to cover all expenses so there would be no financial obligation from the students.
Through the years, Malone Sparks has also been active in several other FCA endeavors, including serving on an FCA College Advisory Board from 1991-96, serving as a huddle leader and workshop leader at the FCA Midwest College Retreat from 1990-99, and serving as an FCA huddle coach at both Arsenal Technical and Northwest High Schools.
With the addition of Brown, Lomax and Malone Sparks, the Hall of Champions now includes 78 members. The honorees are determined by an FCA selection committee following a nomination process that includes staff, volunteers, athletes and members of the organization’s Board of Trustees.
Each inductee will be honored with a plaque bearing a sculpture of their likeness that will remain in the Hall of Champions in FCA’s National Support Center in Kansas City. A replica will be presented to the honoree at an appropriate special event sometime this year.
The Hall of Champions was established in 1991 to honor individuals who have demonstrated a consistent commitment to Jesus Christ through the ministry of FCA. They are considered volunteer “All Stars” who have given above and beyond the call of duty and have upheld the Four Core Values of FCA – Integrity, Serving, Teamwork and Excellence.