To and through the coach.
This strategy brings the mission and vision of FCA to fruition: To see the world transformed by Jesus Christ through the influence of coaches and athletes and To lead every coach and athlete into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ and His church.
FCA has seen the incredible impact a single coach can have when engaged in a growing relationship with Christ, equipped to lead and serve fellow coaches and athletes, and empowered to do the work.
To the Coach
Brock Thompson attended the weekly FCA Huddle at Blair High School in Blair, Neb. He grew in his faith, but it wasn’t until years later that God really grabbed hold of his life. He attended the University of Mary in Bismarck, North Dakota. In the fall of his senior year, he took a job coaching a local high school girls soccer team. That was a major turning point in his life.
Said Thompson, “At the end of that season I remember feeling called—like this is my path. I had changed my major four times thinking healthcare. That was the first time I felt called to go down a new path.”
After graduating with a degree in Biology Education, he served as head coach of the women’s soccer team for three years at his alma mater Mary (at the age of 22) and then at the University of North Dakota. Thompson admitted that his early years of coaching were more about his own achievements than the teams he coached.
“I wanted to coach at the highest level,” he shared. “My focus was on climbing the ladder of success and coaching the biggest and best place I could.”
His first season at UND went well, but soon went downhill. Toward the end of his third year, the FCA North Dakota State Director Nate Safe gave him a book called Quiet Strength by Tony Dungy. He had casually started to read it, but it became much more important to him one week later when he was called into the athletic director’s office and informed that his contract would not be renewed. He went home and started reading the new book with renewed interest.
And that is where God showed up in three noticeable ways.
In the book, Tony Dungy talks about losing his contract and how he learned to lean into Jeremiah 29:11: “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.’”
Thompson then opened his FCA Coaches Bible to that day’s reading: Jeremiah 29:11.
Finally, he was walking around his townhome and saw something he hadn’t noticed before. A few weeks before, his parents had come to visit and brought some of his childhood things. One was a small sailboat he had gotten from his grandma for Christmas when he was young.
Reflected Thompson, “All I remember was how mad I was when I got it. "The ministry and what it's doing is immeasurable." -Coach Brock Thompson
I told my mom I wanted to throw it away. She told me to put it in my desk drawer and that I would want it someday.”
Fast forward all these years and he finally read the words written on this four-inch figurine: Jeremiah 29:11.
Thompson said, “That was nothing short of an a-ha moment for me. I was a Christian before that, but that was the time God met me in what was really an uncertain future. He showed me he was my Rock, and I could lean on Him. The foundation of my faith deepened from that.”
And it all started with a touchpoint from an FCA staff member who had no idea how God would use that book. Today, FCA continues to equip Thompson and the coaches around him through Bible studies, training, and encouragement. This support keeps Thompson and other coaches grounded in challenging times.
Through the Coach
As God grabbed hold of Thompson’s heart, his coaching philosophy changed. Where it used to be transactional (focused on actions and outcomes), his philosophy is now much more transformational (focused on relationships with people). Now in his fourteenth year at South Dakota State University (SDSU) in Brookings and fifth year as women’s soccer head coach, he models Christ to his team, and it makes a difference every day. Some of his former athletes are now serving as overseas missionaries. Another started a player-led Bible study years ago that continues today. Many athletes have become Christ-centered leaders in their workplaces, families, churches, and communities.
The FCA Huddle on campus that Thompson also supports is serving a vital role in a time where students are searching for significance and love. Thompson said, “It is a tremendously challenging time for student-
What we’re seeing is a true desire for people to feel loved and there’s no love greater than the love of Jesus. So, when they feel that, it shows them something different than what the world is giving them.”
Not only is FCA impacting the campus, but it is spilling out into the community of Brookings, as well. What started as a college ministry on campus now impacts kids as young as four years old through camps and older kids through flag football and the high school Huddle.
“It’s becoming a glue within the community,” Thompson said of all the activities. “I see unchurched families taking part in FCA programming. The kids are getting fired up about Jesus and then ministering to their parents, and athletes are being role models, often to kids who don’t have father figures. I see coaches at the college level being a light to both youth club and the high school level.”
To and Through the Coach
God is doing a multiplying work in and through the coaches and athletes at SDSU. He uses FCA staff daily to engage, equip, and empower coaches like Thompson to shine for Christ. From the North Dakota staff member who simply handed him a book to TJ a nd Kristy Carlson, FCA’s South Dakota State Director and SDSU Area Representative, and Brookings Area Representative Bruce Johnson serving the SDSU and Brookings community every day, God is at work.
In Coach Thompson’s words, “The ministry and what it’s doing is immeasurable.”
Photos courtesy of Shelley Pearson