By By Matthew Nascone
Athletes come together to do a job as one and that principle was one of the reasons the Fellowship of Christian Athletes was formed in 1954. This group has since become known as a group of athletes working for God. And that relationship between God and the athletes is also at the core of the FCA's belief system.
FCA South Alabama Area Director Cary V. Lowery said he understands those relationships and he has brought the FCA vision to the southern part of Alabama, and most recently Atmore.
"Relationships are critical to the success of any FCA program," Lowery said. "The coaches and athletes we work with need to know that when we start a program we will not just come in and then leave right away. We will give each group the necessary tools to have a successful huddle."
That "huddle" is a group of athletes who get together to be what the FCA calls crusaders for Christ.
Lowery was in town Wednesday to speak to the Atmore Lions Club about the expansion of the FCA program into the Atmore area. He has spoken with Kyle Davis, athletic director at Escambia County High School, and Escambia Academy's athletic director, Heath Gibson about starting a huddle in each of those schools.
The huddle at EA will begin shortly after the school year begins. Clare Jones will be the student leader on EA's campus.
"I am excited that we are going to have FCA here," Jones said. "I think it will be a great thing for all the athletes here."
Jones was a participant on the "High School Today" show on WNSI FM 105.9 and said she got the idea to start a FCA huddle from Lou Vickery, the radio station talk show host.
Vickery has been involved with FCA huddles in the past and he knew who to contact because he is on the FCA Board of Directors that covers Escambia County.
"I think it is an exciting and wonderful opportunity for the young folks of this community," Vickery said. "And I know Cary is a wonderful man and he will do a good job helping them out."
Jones said she met with Lowery and Gibson Wednesday night to go over the specifics of the program. She said head baseball coach and JV football coach Mitch Hughes will also help with the huddle.
Hughes is a youth minister in the Atmore area.
"I hope everybody will help us out and make the program a success," Jones said.
Clare's father, Bob Jones, is also on the Board of Directors with Vickery. He said the idea to bring the FCA back to this area is a great thing to do.
"It has been a long time since we have had the presence of the FCA here in south Alabama," Bob Jones said. "And it will be great to add this to the positive programs that are being offered in the Atmore area. I believe you can gauge a successful and vibrant community by the programs offered to the youth. And if there are good youth programs, then the adults will be there helping out and that is good for the community."
As far as ECHS is concerned, Lowery said the talks with Davis are going well and the school is looking for a teacher or volunteer to help lead the huddle at the high school. But he said they hope to find that person within the next week.
The process of hosting an FCA huddle is a relatively easy process, Lowery said.
"Our basic role is to build a relationship with the coaches," Lowery said. "We then pray about it and ask 'Does God want a huddle on this campus?' and we have the adults think about whether they want to help. We then have a ministry application form for them to fill out and that is how we check to see what they stand for and see if that meshes with what we are looking for. A certification fee of $40 is then paid and that covers liability for FCA any needed materials for the huddle. We then identify the student leaders and coaches and have an organizational meeting to teach the group how to lead the huddle effectively and then we let run with it."
In south Alabama there are approximately 115 campuses under Lowery's supervision. And that includes high schools, middle schools and private schools. The coverage area spans Escambia, Mobile, Baldwin, Conecuh, Monroe, Clark, Washington and Choctaw counties.