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Spring "Roovival"

Published on April 10, 2017

Sarah Rennicke

Springtime unfolds life that has long been buried under the harsh, cold grip of winter. It’s when the world awakens again from a thick, lazy slumber and into the sun’s thaw.

It’s also a time for spiritual stirring on the gridiron at the University of Akron, planted by Zips head coach Terry Bowden in the lush soil of their spring FCA Roovivals.

Bowden is no stranger to football or FCA. His father Bobby is a hall of famer and legendary former Florida State Seminoles coach. His brother Tommy coached for decades, and his brother Jeff is an assistant at Akron. They grew up attending numerous FCA events, most notably camp at Black Mountain, North Carolina.

9132 (002)“If you’re a Bowden, you coach college football, and you’re involved with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes,” Terry said. “It’s been very important to me, as a part of my life and part of my program’s.”

Bowden wanted his players to experience the feel of FCA Camp in their backyard, so he and Akron FCA Area Representative Kali Brandon created “Roovival,” a revival-like event. Its name came from the Akron mascot marketing effort, a kangaroo with the slogan Fear the Roo.

On the Monday that follows the annual spring game in April, Bowden gathers his players and coaches together for fellowship, music and speakers, who all present the gospel in their stories.

“It’s emotional and exciting, and we don’t mince words,” Bowden said.

In fact, he makes it his mission that every one of his players has a chance to hear who Jesus is before leaving the program.

“If we profess to love our players as our own children, then we would want them to have the greatest message and the greatest gift we could ever give them,” said Bowden. “It’s not an NFL career, it’s not football wins, it’s not teaching them to throw and catch or block and tackle—it’s to give them the message of salvation, the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

The demands of football include yearlong preparation and countless hours spent in sights of victory. Yet Bowden revealed there’s only one assured victory in this world—eternal life freely given.

0she117 (002)“We’ve missed the boat if we spend hours and hours at practice and our players don’t hear that,” he said.

After the first “Roovival,” players and coaches responded resoundingly. Their men’s Bible study gained additional members with a few new coaches in attendance. Brandon has also continued his routine check-ins with players, sending them Bible verses or nuggets of encouragement. He’s pleasantly surprised when players respond who normally wouldn’t talk about spiritual matters.

“A lot of thanks goes to God, first and foremost,” said Brandon, who acted as the team character coach. “I travel with the team, and we pray before and after each game. [Bowden] has his program fully open to FCA.”

Brandon and Bowden anticipate great things moving forward, continuing “Roovival” in the years to come and opening it to other athletic teams on campus. Brandon considers it a springboard for spreading FCA across the university and into the community, raising awareness for similar events for student-athletes.

“God has really shown up,” Brandon said. “Lives have been changed.”


Learn more about NE Ohio FCA here.

Photos courtesy of Kali Brandon