For years, God has been outlining the blueprints for creating a space for women in sport to meet and grow together. He breathed it into the hearts of FCA staff like Triangle Metro Director Elizabeth Ledford and Fayette Area Director Sarah Roberts, who nurtured the idea of women in sport coming together to unite in one place for transformation. They were waiting on God for His timing and a few more pieces.
Enter Mindy Hopman, South Coastal FCA Area Representative. Hopman, a longtime FCA volunteer who came on staff in 2019, had experience and a passion for women’s events. As she and Roberts connected and discussed their heartbeat for ministering to female coaches and athletes, they sensed the Holy Spirit was at work and leaned in for closer discernment. What would be the best resource to not only equip women with the truth of Christ in their athletic and daily lives, but also empower them to live out this truth throughout the year?
The answer: [The] Huddle: For Women, a virtual experience to engage, equip and empower every female coach and athlete in sport.
They began to prep for an in-person gathering, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced a reset and shift. Wondering whether to call it off or pivot and proceed in a different direction, Roberts and Hopman stepped back and prayed for God’s direction on how to proceed. As they dug into prayer, they sensed God calling them forward in a new digital method.
A team of supporters, including FCA South Coastal Area Director Paul Cifaldi, who initially charged Hopman to create a women’s event in the Hilton Head area, went to work fundraising and coordinating with Director of Media Michael Hodges, confirming dates and details for what it would take to put on this kind of experience.
On January 9, 2021 and January 22, 2022, women gathered in “Hometown Huddles,” groups of four-to-eight women and girls in homes and churches across the country; there was even a Huddle that tuned in from Ukraine. From these groups, girls and women watched worship, teaching and testimony videos and discussed what they gleaned from the videos.
“We wanted our staff to meet their people in their place, so the Hometown Huddles watched the messages together to go deep in conversation with people they knew,” said Hopman. There was also an option for attending a Hometown Huddle virtually.
“We wanted to help create a space for God to meet people right where they are,” Hopman said, “no matter their geographical location.”
“[The] Huddle: For Women is a great platform that we can use in this time of virtual ministry,” said Ira Chorna, Kiev, Ukraine Area Representative. “It is an opportunity to gather together with coaches and athletes and bring the Gospel to the place where we are.”
Follow up to the event included [The] Huddle: Timeout, monthly Huddle meetings with discussion topics, and opportunity for females in the sports world to feel more connected to one another and confirm their identity.
“A lot of times women in sports can feel overlooked by the world and are trying to find their spot. This was a place to tell them, ‘You’re not alone,’” said Roberts. “We’re showing them that they are valued and seen.”
The hope is to create a regular cadence so when the event comes around the next January it naturally connects to what has already taken place throughout the year, instead of a “break” between seasons. Hopman wants the relationships that are already created to continue into discipleship that move forward. [The] Huddle: For Women will continue to be both in-person and through a digital platform, to provide every opportunity for sustained growth and connection.
“This is only the beginning of what God wants to do with women in sport,” Roberts shared. “We don’t want it to just be a spiritual high; we want discipleship.”
For Roberts, seeing [The] Huddle: For Women flourish is a dream come true, over a decade in the making. “I live at 30,000 feet and have the end goal, and Mindy is so good at the process,” she said.
“God put this team together with so many people and staff who shared hearts and partnered with us. It’s a beautiful picture of God’s body coming together as one to create a God-given, God-blessed resource for women in sport.”
To learn more about [The] Huddle: For Women, visit www.thehuddleforwomen.org and learn how to start a Hometown Huddle in your area.