Keeping Athletes on Track
The Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) exists with one main purpose in mind—to challenge coaches and athletes on the professional, college, high school, junior high and youth levels to use the powerful medium of athletics to impact the world for Jesus Christ.
In today’s society, athletes are revered as heroes and in a frequent number of cases are role models for many youth. It is a fact that Sarah Roberts, Director of Women’s Ministry for the FCA, has accepted and uses to her advantage.
“There was a study done and the results show that on a worldwide level, the three most recognizable people are Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods and Mohammad Ali,” she said. “The world loves athletes all the way down to the high school level, so if you can get your athletes on board, spreading the message, there are going to be some real changes made.”
Roberts is not a stranger to the fruits that FCA produces. She is a self described FCA brat. Growing up in the panhandle of Oklahoma, she was attending FCA camps at the age of three. As she got older, she was continuously going from one leadership role to another within the FCA. She credits the FCA for her staying within the Word [Bible] during her years of college.
“A lot of kids forget about church when they get off to college,” Roberts said. “For me, the FCA always kept me grounded from a lot of the trouble that you can get into during those years.”
She says that for many, the college years are times spent searching for freedom in the form of separation from anything found in their parents. Often this can translate into drinking and drug experimentation.
“When talking and dealing with many of the young female athletes about drugs and alternate lifestyles, I never harp on their habits and the ways in their lives,” she said. “Again, that’s not the problem; rather it’s their way of dealing with the problem. I prefer to talk about their relationship with Christ, and by talking in the word of Christ, they are going to figure out that God has something better for them.”
Roberts admits that there is a lot involved with her work but she says it is very rewarding. A portion of that work is attempting to help young athletes overcome self-esteem issues. According to her, when she was growing up there were very few female “role models” in the media. However, today that has changed.
“The world has created lost role models. Today a lot of young girls look up to Britney Spears and Paris Hilton and they can be just as lost as anyone,” Roberts said. “Nobody needs the drug rehabs and the broken marriages that are Hollywood celebrity realities. I always ask them, ‘Why would you want to fit in when God made you to stand out?’”
Being the state’s Director of Women’s Ministry also involves working with some great people. Roberts works with students and coaches from Woodward to Idabel and from Miami to Altus. Some of them include OU women’s basketball coach, Sheri Coale, and OU women’s softball coach, Patty Gasso. Others are Indianapolis Colts head coach, Tony Dungy, former Nebraska Cornhuskers coach, Tom Osborn and three local Heisman Trophy winners, Steve Owens, Billy Sims and Jason White.
“One of the perks of this job is that you get to work with some amazing people that have taken an amazing stance for Christ,” Roberts said.
Recently, the FCA made Edmond home to the Oklahoma headquarters, and at just over 18 months old, their new facility is completely paid for. Director, John O’Dell shares his excitement over the new building.
“We were able to secure our facilities through the gifts of many wonderful supporters and volunteers who believe in the mission of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes,” he said. “Our new office allows FCA to train and encourage our volunteers, staff, coaches, teachers and students on how to influence others in their relationship with Christ. We are thankful to have a permanent place that we can call home.”
The mission statement of FCA 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 the fellowship of the church.
“It has been with me my whole life, from a young girl right up to being a professional,” said Roberts. “I owe a lot to the FCA.”
Log onto www.fca.org to learn more about the FCA and how you can help in their mission.