Once August rolls around, the feeling of fall is almost palpable. Even though the days are still hot, back-to-school sales begin and sports talk turns to football. Fans around the country are already chomping at the bit for football season, especially as NFL training camps are under way.
Football season is a big focus for Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA, www.fca.org
), too, especially as young athletes, coaches and staff have a chance to interact with NFL players who are committed to Christ as much as the game.
San Diego Charger Darrell Stuckey interacts with FCA Campers.
Earlier this summer, several San Diego Chargers players were involved with an FCA Camp in San Diego, and truly impressed young athletes with their commitment to Christ and the game.
“There’s something special about football season, and especially here at Fellowship of Christian Athletes, we love seeing nationally known, Christ-following football players impact young athletes by talking about their faith and their commitment to God,” said FCA President and CEO Les Steckel. “Oftentimes, these kids participate in an FCA Camp hoping to improve their game or meet their sports heroes, but we hope they leave with a newfound fervor for learning more about Jesus and knowing that when they follow Him, they will always be ‘Undefeated.’”
According to Colin Sinclair, FCA’s San Diego County Director, more than 200 student-athletes were wowed beyond belief when San Diego Chargers players Darrell Stuckey, Jimmy Wilson and Nick Novak, along with the Indianapolis Colts’ Vincent Brown, who attended San Diego State University, practiced their football skills on the same field with their young fans, served them lunch and shared about their faith in Christ.
As the Chargers continue their training camp through August 18 and open pre-season play on August 13 at home against the Dallas Cowboys, Stuckey, a 2015 Pro Bowler, said he went to the FCA Camp with an “…open heart and big smile, ready to have fun. Gave kids an opportunity that might not get the opportunity to go to a professional athlete’s camp,” according to a feature on the Camp by ProPlayerInsiders.com
Added Wilson, “It’s great hearing kids say Jesus is in their life. I am glad they see that reflecting off of me. I want them all to keep doing good and keep obeying Jesus.”
One 15-year-old Camp participant also told ProPlayerInsiders.com
: “The players today told me they were nobodies, but with God they became a ‘somebody.’ It showed me that I can be capable with the Word of God. Today, Darrell stood out to me because we are similar and we connected right away. He is a good man. I liked Nick Novak, too. He is a great player and person. I learned from both of these guys to put God first and everything else will fall into place.”
Other comments from young players included: “My favorite part today was working with Jimmy Wilson doing cornerback drills, but also ... hearing him say to focus on the Lord to lead us the right way;” and “In the time that I have met Darrell, I have realized he is a good father and husband. I look up to all these players today but mostly because of the godly men that they are.”
Sinclair added that the NFL players donated funds to host the Camp, which allowed FCA to provide every participant with a shirt and a Bible. Soon after the Camp, Sinclair said, he received a note from a camper’s mother, who wrote: “My son and I just returned home from the FCA football camp. I was truly impressed with the staff and organization of the camp. My son had a great time and he will remember this camp for a long time. The pro athletes had encouraging words of advice for him that he will remember throughout his years. He started reading [the FCA resource] ‘Undefeated’ as soon as he was in the car. Thank you for including the message of God into football to our youth. We will definitely be returning next year.”
“It’s incredible to watch these NFL players use their platform to influence kids for Christ,” Sinclair said. “They really make each camper feel like they are the only one at Camp. The highlight for me is when we come together for Q and A. I ask them some questions about football and their faith, and the campers and their parents listen to these NFL athletes share about how God is No. 1 in their life—not football. They teach the kids about respecting their parents and the importance of working hard in school and football.
“It is so important for these campers to know that some of their sports heroes are Christians,” Sinclair continued. “In a culture that elevates self, to have four role models who elevate Christ is a game-changer for these kids. A lot of the campers say they want to play in the NFL, and to have four current NFL players sharing about their faith in Christ makes the kids want to learn more about God.”
For the Camps season, FCA focuses on ministering to the whole athlete—physically, mentally and spiritually—through its popular Camps program. With the 2015 theme of “Undefeated,” FCA Camps offer student-athletes the opportunity to develop in their chosen sport through outstanding instruction, skill development and intense competition, along with spiritual guidance from dedicated coaches and staff who concentrate on training the total athlete.
This year, FCA Camps focus on 1 Corinthians 15:57: “But thanks be to God, who gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” As the FCA Camps web site reminds, “We serve a God who has never lost. His string of victories is unmatched. He has dominated the competition throughout history ... God is holy. God is mighty. He is UNDEFEATED!”
To find out about the various types of FCA camps throughout the remainder of the summer in specific areas or to inquire about volunteering at an FCA Camp, visit www.fcacamps.org
. For more information about the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, visit FCA’s web site at www.fca.org
, its Facebook page at www.facebook.com/fcafans
or its Twitter feed, @fcanews