GHS athletes have ‘faith’ in the game

Amy Boldt
Members of one of Geneseo’s FCA Huddle Groups enjoy a little breakfast before getting into their Bible studies for the morning.

Bringing students together through their faith in Christ is the mission of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) organization which touches the lives of Geneseo students and students from across the United States.

Established in 1954 by Don McClanen, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes has been challenging coaches and athletes at all levels, from professional to youth, to use athletics to impact the world for Jesus Christ.

FCA created its first national camp in Estes Park, Colo., in 1956 with 256 athletes and coaches attending. That same year the organization moved its national headquarters from Oklahoma to Kansas City, Mo., where it remains today.

The huddle program was established in 1966, and FCA had 4,400 official huddle groups by 1985. In 1995, 13,048 athletes attended FCA National Camps and the organization was established on the World Wide Web at In 2004, FCA celebrated its 50 years of ministry.

In Geneseo, students at Geneseo High?School are coming forward and proclaiming their faith as the FCA keeps growing by leaps and bounds.

“I think FCA provides a really neat balance between faith in Christ and sports,” said Dan Pearson, who runs one of the huddle groups in Geneseo. “It provides some really neat lessons that you can apply to sports, faith and life.”

“FCA is a group that meets in different huddle groups: Dan Pearson’s house on Friday mornings, Bob and Lori Ward’s house on Monday nights and there is also TFCA (Together For Christ Alone), which meets on Sunday nights during the school year,” said student Meghan?Wethington. “We do Bible studies, Fields of Faith, Truth on the Track — where we invite kids from the high school to come and learn —Rake and Run and Adopt a Grandparent.”

Pearson said he has been shocked at how many people are involved, “We went from 20 athletes to 120.

“Millions of kids are involved, and I am not too surprised in the Geneseo kids getting involved because of their strong faith base. It is an effective ministry that brings kids together. A lot of what we do is fellowship, there is a social aspect, and we really dig into the Bible.”

“It is fun, not threatening, but a big commitment and a good way to express ideas,” said Wethington. “We talk and grow in faith, build friendships with students of all different faiths. I am really impressed with how it has grown. It has grown tremendously starting with 10 kids and it is great to see the holy spirit grow through the school. FCA started small and now ranges around 100 kids. I see God’s power, and the students have been good leaders and encourage others.”

Wethington said that it is sometimes hard to recruit new members because some people are not open or think it is not cool to be a part of FCA.

“People are set in their ways,” said Wethington. “I haven’t seen persecutions for being involved, but sometimes you are left out of things.”

Wethington said when people come to FCA for the first time, it is not that scary. If they haven’t been to church for awhile, getting use to things may be difficult, but if they have friends there it is easier, she explained.

FCA provides a Bible for everyone involved in the organization, which offers 10,000 different lessons to apply to relationships, stress issues, dating and being humble on the playing field, said Pearson.

“One of the excellent things is FCA makes it really streamlined and effective,” said Pearson. “There is not a lot of preparation time, and we have great discussions.”

Pearson leads a huddle group on Friday mornings before school at his house with kids beginning to show up at 6:50 a.m. Approximately, 35 to 52 kids show up each Friday and a team of moms provide food every week. The Friday morning huddle group works through the FCA Bible, has discussions and prayer requests and then are out the door by 7:40 a.m. headed to school.

“We get a great exchange going on, and it is fun to watch how they develop over the years,” said Pearson. “The freshmen don’t talk much, but the upperclassmen nurture them along.”

The local FCA also hosts different events to get others interested and help the community. Fields of Faith and Truth on the Track are two different events the FCA puts on that allows the athletes to come together in their faith as well as find new members.

To help out in the community, the FCA does a Rake and Run, where they go around raking 10 to 15 lawns, trying not to let anyone know they were there. The groups also have an Adopt a Grandparent program.

“It is humbling to watch them be so involved in their faith,” said Pearson.

“Fields of Faith and Truth on the Track are big nights where all of the groups get together,” said student Jessie DeFauw. “Students read scripture, there’s music, and we have a pastor or a guest speaker. Fields of Faith is nationwide, and we can pull kids out of the hallways who don’t normally attend, but can go with you.”

And why Fellowship of Christian Athletes?

“There are so many lessons that come out of athletics: from dealing with playing time to thinking someone is better than you,” said Pearson. “We want the church to be a team and embrace that no one is more important than the other. There is a nice balance of where it all fits together. Kids want to hear the truth. It is neat to see how they want to improve and how Jesus is built right into that.”

“Athletics is a big part of some people’s lives. You are being watched and people notice what you do,” said DeFauw. “I have always been strong in my faith, and I want to keep with it when I go to Bradley University. I love FCA, it is so good.”

“Most of the people who join play at least one sport, but we don’t turn away anybody,” said Wethington. “The basis of FCA is wanting to work with athletes to compete and give God glory. There is a competitors’ creed and it has shown us the way to compete in Christian way. We all have that in common.”

“What I hope they take away from this is to search out similar groups like this when they leave high school and that God remains the same,” said Pearson. “We are all flawed, but God remains available. Even though high school is over, God remains the same.”

“(Through being involved in FCA) I have gained consistency in my faith and has shown me that actions speak louder than words,” said Wethington.

FCA is the largest Christian sports organization in America and its vision is “To see the world impacted for Jesus Christ through the influence of athletes and coaches.” The organization’s mission is “To present to athletes and coaches and all whom they influence the challenge and adventure of receiving Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, serving Him in their relationships and in fellowship of the church. The FCA values are “Our relationships will demonstrate steadfast commitment to Jesus Christ and His Word through Integrity, Serving, Teamwork and Excellence.”

FCA members pause for a prayer at the Pearsons’ huddle group.