“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” (James 1:2-3, NIV)
How do you find joy while walking through various trials?
This is a question many of us can find common ground with in 2020. Athletes throughout the country and even the globe have endured the unexpected trials with seasons cancelled or postponed, a championship game never played or a senior season without closure.
Spencer Crace, South Sound Multi-Area Director in Washington, sought to help athletes find joy in the midst of the trials they were constantly up against throughout 2020 by finding ways to meet regularly with them. This soon became the heartbeat of the Washington Quarterback Academy, a day camp Crace hosted that gave 12 high school athletes the chance to work on their position, learn basic life skills, and, most importantly, learn more about the hope of Jesus Christ.
“In Washington, they’re not playing high school football right now," Crace said, “so we wanted to create an environment where kids could get better, compete and make it about more than just football.”
Although the athletes were from different schools, they could all relate to the same sense of “loss” and disappointment from the 2020 season that was put on hold. Knowing this reality, Crace set out to make the heartbeat of the camp not only about playing the game of football, but learning to find joy in the midst of trials… and that joy can only be found in Jesus.
“It’s the realization that God is going to use this in a good way,” Crace said. “You can find joy in the midst of trials — in the midst of COVID, and consider it pure joy because with Christ, you will persevere.”
Taking a holistic approach that goes beyond football, the athletes were given the opportunity to learn from a dietician about the importance of eating healthy, go through a virtual reality quarterback training, learn about a banking app designed for teens that teaches them how to be good stewards of their money and get insights on how to prepare for college.
One of the most influential aspects of camp were the speakers chosen to help the athletes learn more about Jesus and grow in their faith. On a live Zoom call, Brock Huard, ESPN NFL analyst and former NFL quarterback, gave the players an inside look on what it means to be a Christian quarterback. They also heard Dave Banks, FCA Multi-Area Director in Washington, share his story of how he came to know Jesus following his football career at Marshall University, as well as from Seattle Seahawks’ passing coordinator/QB coach Dave Canales.
Sam Huard, one of the top senior high school quarterbacks in the country, spoke volumes of his first ever FCA Camp experience and the encouragement it brought to him on and off the field.
“My favorite part was getting to play the sport I love, while getting to be in a faith-based environment and hearing from a lot of great speakers as well,” Huard said. “Being able to learn from those who have used their faith to lead their teammates and to lead others… that was really important to me.”
With last year’s FCA camp theme being 100%, every athlete received an FCA Bible and had the chance to spend time in God’s Word and learn about what it truly means to give 100% in everything they do.
“We talked about not only giving it 100% on the field every day and in our sport, but giving 100% to our faith and to start diving into the Bible more and other aspects where we can grow,” Huard said. “If you’re going to do something, you might as well give 100%, or don’t do it at all.”
On the last night of camp, the athletes watched a video of former NFL tight end, Ben Watson, sharing about The FOUR, an explanation of the Gospel in four simple truths.
By the end of the weekend, six athletes recommitted their lives to Jesus, three shared that they already had a relationship with Jesus
and senior quarterback Jake Sype gave his life to Christ for the first time.
“Don’t use God for your life, let God use you.”
Moved by the truth of Crace’s words, Sype spent time thinking about what it meant for him and used it to help him take the next step towards putting his faith in Jesus.
Through the influence of the QB Academy, Sype found a new perspective on the game of football and the role his faith has as an athlete.
“For me, it’s shaped my perspective in ways that no other training could,” Sype said. “I’ve become more relaxed in playing football because now I know that my trust is in God and that He has a plan.”
When it comes to giving 100%, Sype explained that it’s about giving it all to God and checking your motives to ensure they align with His purpose for your life.
“All your motives should be driven with God and through the love of Christ, and I feel like that was a special thing to realize,” Sype shared. “Everything you do you should have a purpose behind it and a why… so if your ‘why’ is for God then your purpose will never waiver.”
Through the unknown, through the present trials, through it all… God is good, HIS purpose never waivers and He is on the move in the hearts of coaches and athletes.
Spencer Crace and the Pacific Northwest FCA staff are relentlessly taking ground for the ministry of FCA. Click here to support Spencer and his ministry, and visit www.pnwfca.org to see what’s happening with FCA in the Pacific Northwest region.