!Please Note!

You are using an outdated browser that may impact your experience on FCA.org.
Please upgrade to the latest version of Internet Explorer here or download another browser like Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome.
Once you upgrade, this notice will no longer appear.

New Starts, Eternal Impact

Published on November 04, 2022

Scott Barkley

Femi Alao’s introduction to FCA coincided with another new beginning. As a forward on Grambling State University’s women’s soccer team, Alao joined the program in its second year of existence and would be a part of its early success.

“I absolutely loved my time there,” she said. “We won the conference twice and made it to the NCAA tournament. As a new program, you couldn’t be in the tournament until your third year and we were able to do that.

Added Alao, “It was a diverse group of folks from all over the world, and, honestly, those were some of the best years of my life.”

Image 1-20-22 at 9.20 PMFCA wound up being just as significant a part of her college experience. A serious knee injury required two surgeries that took away her sophomore season, but the support she received from teammates and FCA helped her make it through.

“Tearing my ACL was one of the more pivotal moments in my life,” she said. “We say ‘ball is life’ and that was the case for me. I had started a successful sophomore year and kind of feel I needed to be humbled at that point, and I was.”

In the end, it made Alao grateful for what she had and the opportunity to play. The grind and perseverance to get back on the field brought her best year as a senior, when she netted 15 goals to go with 14 assists. Due to a redshirt year, Alao also played a fifth season with Southern Mississippi.

“I participated in FCA all four years at Grambling and then one year at Southern Miss,” she said. “I had the time of my life. FCA was exciting, popular and vibrant. Everyone wanted to be there. On Tuesday and Thursday nights you knew where everyone was going to go.”

After graduate school at Ball State University, Alao moved back to her hometown of Denver, Colorado and spent about a decade working in local school systems in various athletic capacities including coach, teacher and administration, but nothing directly involving FCA.   

That changed in October 2019, when she moved to Rochester, N.Y. after being named Assistant Director of Athletics at Roberts Wesleyan University.

“I love it here,” she said. “I can interact with students more and be more involved with FCA on campus since this is a faith-based school. I’ve partnered with FCA in various capacities and get in on some of the Huddles. I’ve led a couple of devotionals for teams before their games.”

It had been at least ten years since FCA had a presence on RWU’s campus, estimated Adrienne Cali, FCA’s Campus Representative. From the moment they first met, she said Alao’s passion for FCA was evident.

“She loves it and it was obvious how it had impacted her life. She’ll do anything to help it grow on campus,” said Cali.

One of those regular events for growth is Sunday Night Lights, when all students gather for food, fellowship and fun once a month and hear a guest speaker share the Gospel. In addition, a larger FCA Huddle meets that includes all student-athletes, with a nine-member FCA student leadership team.

Although COVID-19 hindered many plans in 2020, school officials wanted to give students positive social outlets as much as possible. Cali and FCA proved to be key to that early strategy, as she was allowed to oversee team Huddles while adhering to safety protocols.

Jessica Savage is one of those beneficiaries. Now a junior on the soccer team, she is FCA president at Roberts Wesleyan and can testify to its benefits.

“It’s provided me with a faith-based community on campus with other Christians. Through it, I’ve become firm in my faith and can lead others to share about Christ,” she said.

FCA has sparked a curiosity for others who have stopped by a meeting. When some of my teammates attended FCA events, I was able to explain to them what my faith means to me and what Jesus can do in their lives,” she said, acknowledging the leadership and influence of Alao around campus.

“Every time I come into contact with her, you can tell she cares for others around her and wants to build connections between people,” she said.

Alao, FemiEvery new beginning requires a fresh start. That can apply to someone’s faith as well as on the field of play. Three years after Grambling State launched a soccer program, Alao and her teammates were in the NCAA tournament. Last fall Savage and the Redhawks were winless after seven games. Seven straight wins, however, put them in the playoffs.

FCA continues to be a place where student athletes can see a fresh start for their faith.

“FCA is doing a lot here to meet students where they’re at and incorporate the Christian experience to where students can be part of a social environment,” Also said. “Here, they can hang out and have a good time, but also get the Word. They’re getting fed with food, but also spiritually.

“I’ve seen a lot of students lead and grow. They bloom and develop. They realize that they can love Jesus and love their sport.”



Support the work Upstate New York FCA is doing on campuses like Roberts Wesleyan University and find out ways to get involved!


Photos courtesy of Femi Alao, Robert Wesleyan College and Adrienne Cali