Sam Garcia started playing football in fifth grade and never wanted to stop.
The quarterback and defensive back at Harrison High School in Colorado Springs, CO resonated with the grit on the gridiron and drive to press on through difficulty. He had seen his fair share of hardship, going to six elementary schools as his home life struggled for stability, and taking care of younger siblings amidst not knowing where he may find life’s basic necessities.
He dreamed of college but doubted he’d get there. What Garcia needed was a ray of light. When he reached high school, he found a glimmer and was drawn to its glow.
One day after practice his sophomore year, Garcia met Andrew Powell, FCA State Director for Colorado. Powell talked about FCA and invited a few players to attend the regional camp in Arizona. This was the first time Garcia had heard of FCA, but he didn’t really pay attention, focusing instead on the opportunity to meet division one coaches and athletes.
“As soon as he said that I locked in and blocked out the Christian part,” Garcia admitted.
When Garcia and four of his teammates arrived at camp in Flagstaff, they were immediately hooked on the football practices. When it was time for worship night, however, they made a pact to leave the auditorium as soon as they could.
But the moment the music began, the atmosphere shifted in the room and Garcia felt something different. “It was heartwarming and real,” he said. “I loved it.”
As the speaker shared about the love of God through the death and resurrection of Jesus, Garcia felt a nudge and warmth he couldn’t shake, nor did he want to. “I don’t know what came over me--I just couldn’t stop moving forward, floating toward the altar. I was crying and couldn’t stop, but I wanted it,” Garcia remembered. From that moment, Garcia connected to God and knew he found the more he’d been wanting.
Garcia dove into FCA. He started a campus Huddle, built up relationships he made with other athletes around Colorado Springs who had attended the Flagstaff camp, shared his testimony at Huddles and camps and continued going to camps in Colorado. FCA became his place of stability and blossomed under the encouragement of Powell and other leaders.
Powell became a constant presence in Garcia’s life, meeting one-on-one with him and encouraging his value in Christ. Garcia’s home life was difficult, and he wasn’t sure he had the motivation to move forward with his education. With Powell’s help, Garcia began to explore college options and they walked through the application process together.
Now, Garcia is back home in Colorado Springs virtually finishing his senior year at Black Hills State in South Dakota, where he played football for the Yellow Jackets. He is coaching football and basketball at Harrison HS and is advocating for FCA to return to campus.
"FCA is a very special organization. The [leaders] poured a lot into me and I want to thank FCA for showing up in my life, and giving kids like me light."He’s come full circle, leveraging his position as a coach to pour into the lives of student-athletes and sharing the goodness of God.
“I couldn’t be prouder of him and all he’s had to overcome,” said Powell. “He’s inspirational to me.”
Garcia spins the complement back to Powell and the ministry. “FCA is a very special organization. The [leaders] poured a lot into me and I want to thank FCA for showing up in my life, and giving kids like me light,” he said. “Now, I want to give these kids an opportunity for the door to open and connect with God.”
In a time when Garcia’s life was full of uncertainty and dimness, Powell and FCA brought light, a renewed future and a hope that won’t be cut off, like it says in Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”
“I don’t know if God sent me a guardian angel, because when me and my mom were really having a rough patch, Drew took me under his wing. He gave me hope when he showed up and reconnected me with God,” Garcia said.
He added, “FCA really did change my whole life around. I’m so blessed. All I want to do is help change young men and women’s lives in Colorado Springs.”
To learn more about the work FCA Colorado is doing to serve coaches and athletes, visit their website. To make a financial donation or get involved in their ministry, click here.
Photo courtesy of Andrew Powell