Fellowship of Christian Athletes

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) is an international non-profit Christian sports ministry based in Kansas City, Missouri. FCA was founded in 1954. It has staff offices located throughout the United States and abroad.[1][2]

Fellowship of Christian Athletes
Formation1954; 66 years ago (1954)
HeadquartersKansas City, Missouri
  • Worldwide
President and CEO
Shane Williamson

FCA's mission is "to lead every coach and athlete into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ and His church." Its vision is "to see the world transformed by Jesus Christ through the influence of coaches and athletes."[1]

The organization's headquarters are located across Interstate 70 from the Truman Sports Complex.


FCA was founded in 1954 by Eastern Oklahoma A&M basketball coach Don McClanen, who later resigned to become its full-time director.[3] After watching sports stars use fame to endorse and sell general merchandise, McClanen wrote to 19 prominent sports figures asking for their help in establishing an organization that would use the same principle to share the Christian faith. Among the first supporters were Baseball Hall of Famer Branch Rickey,[4][5] who was most known for breaking the MLB color barrier by signing Jackie Robinson to the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1945, and professional athletes including Otto Graham, Carl Erskine and Don Moomaw.[3][6][7] FCA held its first advisory board meeting in September 1954 and was officially incorporated as a not-for-profit organization in November.[6]

After two years in Oklahoma, McClanen moved FCA's headquarters to Kansas City, Missouri. That year (1956), FCA also conducted its first national camp‚ then referred to as a national conference‚ which drew 256 athletes and coaches to Estes Park, Colo. The ministry continued its expansion by adding additional camp locations, establishing a national magazine and beginning school campus groups called ‚"Huddles‚" within 10 years of the first camp.[7] In 1979 FCA completed and dedicated a new headquarters facility overlooking Kansas City‚ Truman Sports Complex, and the building was officially renamed the FCA National Support Center in 2011.[7]

After 65 years of operation, FCA has developed into a global Christian sports ministry reaching more than two million people per year at the professional, college, high school, junior high and youth sports levels.[7] As of 2018, FCA included a staff of over 1,700 ministry personnel in more than 450 U.S. offices and 62 countries.[8]

Statement of FaithEdit

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes operates according to an internally written statement of faith. This statement consists of nine points based on Bible teachings and Christian principles. Each point has a corresponding scripture.[1] All staff and ministry leaders agree with and operate according to the FCA statement of faith.[9]

Core valuesEdit

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes lists four core values for its ministry:[1] Integrity, Serving, Teamwork and Excellence. Each core value has a corresponding scripture.

FCA Strategy and Methods of MinistryEdit

FCA pursues their vision and mission through the strategy of "to and through the coach". We seek ministry first to coaches hearts, marriages and families. Then, when ready, we minister through coaches to their fellow coaches, teams and athlete leaders.[10]

Billy Graham said, “A coach will impact more people in one year than the average person will in an entire lifetime.” With the influence of a coach, FCA recognizes the most strategic way to reach more athletes is to first reach the coach. 

As FCA matures, we seek to make disciples through our methods of engaging, equipping and empowering coaches and athletes to know and grow in Christ and lead others to do the same.[10]

Engage (1 Thessalonians 2:8) FCA engages relationally by connecting with individuals and through events in many different environments by building genuine trust, sharing our lives and sharing the gospel. FCA strives to connect with coaches and athletes where they are on their spiritual journey.[10]

Equip (Ephesians 4:12) After cultivating relationships and once coaches and athletes come to faith in Christ, FCA wants to equip them with Christ-centered training, events, resources and on-going support in what it means to be a follower of Christ, growing in God’s Word and applying it to life.[10]

Empower (2 Timothy 2:2) Once equipped, FCA empowers faithful leaders who desire to use their time, talents and treasures to help other coaches and athletes experience the gospel, grow in their faith and share Him with others. FCA desires to develop disciples who make disciples, assisting them so that they can in turn engage, equip and empower others to know and grow in Christ and lead others to do the same.[10]

Sport-Specific Ministry FCA targets athletes and coaches in baseball, cheerleading, endurance sports, golf, hockey, lacrosse, motocross, surfing and wrestling.[11]

The first SSM was FCA Golf, which was established in 1977. It was followed in 1989 by FCA Lacrosse.[12]

International MinistryEdit

Since 2012, FCA has expanded efforts around the world. As of 2018, FCA International is serving in 60 countries through 242 FCA International leaders who spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. FCA supports initiatives and partnerships that provide opportunities for leaders in sport ministries within their own countries by equipping them with the programs, services, support, resources and tools to grow their ministries. FCA hosted 304 camps outside of the US with more than 30,000 campers in 50 countries. Additionally, FCA International Huddles grew to 1,775 with 35,000 in attendance; more than 6,900 made decisions to follow Christ.[13]


At the executive level, FCA operates under the direction of a president/CEO and an executive team that meets with a board of trustees.

FCA requires leaders to agree with its vision, mission and statement of faith. All adult leaders must complete a Ministry Leader Application. Applicants must agree with its vision, mission, statement of faith, non-denominational statement and sexual purity statement. All leaders must also pass a criminal background check and have their complete application approved by a local or regional Field Staff employee.[9][14]

While all students are welcome to attend FCA Huddles, students in leadership are required to sign a Statement of Faith and a Sexual Purity Statement.[15][16][17]


In September 2015, Roanoke City and Roanoke County, Virginia public schools ended FCA ministry to football players following at least two complaints.[18] In an FCA activity referred to as the "Watermelon Ministry", the organization had visited public high school student athletes at team practices to offer watermelon slices and tell players that all the talents they have come from God.[19][20] Two FCA videos from August 2015 of the now-halted program show public school coaches standing behind their team while an FCA evangelist sternly warns them that to be good players they must have a Christian faith and read the Bible.[21][22] In a third video, numerous Virginia public high school coaches speak about how the FCA helps them recruit students to Christianity. One coach, for example, states: "We teach them not only about sports and how to live your life, but how to live your life as a Christian. I think that’s really important, for us to just have a chance to relate with all different kinds of kids, not just the ones who go to church, but maybe the ones who don’t go to church. It allows us to draw them in in a relaxed environment and really speak to them about the Gospel, which is the reason we do what we do. We want to bring kids to the gospel and see them follow after Christ." [23]

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, a national nonprofit organization, referred to the activities as "predatory," "illegal" and "unconstitutional" [24] in letters sent to superintendents of two of the largest Virginia jurisdictions involved.

School officials responded they were unaware that the coaches were hosting the proselytizing, and immediately stopped it. The Roanoke County superintendent stated “Roanoke County Schools believes in the separation of church and state. We want to maintain and ensure that that practice is being followed.” A city of Roanoke spokesman said “When this information came to our attention, we responded immediately. We met with the appropriate people and made it very clear that separation of church and state is the law of the land. We feel the matter is under control and we will monitor this very closely.”[18]

Through its media office, FCA issued the following response, "Every student athlete has the right and the freedom to participate in activities according to their individual religious convictions. There are no repercussions for students who decline to participate in FCA activities." [18] The FFRF letters, however had noted that repercussions may take the form of pressure from peers and coaches, alienating non-Christian students, and usurping parents' authority.[24]

The FCA sexual purity statement has been criticized because it includes statements against homosexuality, which must be signed by FCA representatives of the ministry including staff, trustees and adult volunteer ministry leaders. Student leaders sign a Student Leader Application when serving in leadership roles within the organization, but this application does not require signing the sexual purity statement.[25][15][26]

Professional athletesEdit

Since 1954, professional athletes and coaches have taken part in FCA through ministry events, speaking engagements, FCA camps, volunteer opportunities and ministry leadership roles.[3][27] For approximately six decades, athletes and coaches from both major and minor professional sports and top-tier college programs have engaged with FCA to communicate their Christian faith and participate in community outreach opportunities. Among those who pioneered the organization were former stars Otto Graham, Branch Rickey, Bobby Richards, Carl Erskine and Bill Krisher.[28] They would be followed by other influential sports figures including Tom Landry, Bobby Bowden, John Wooden, Roger Staubach, Jim Ryun,[28] Betsy King,[28] Herschel Walker,[29] Reggie White, Tony Dungy, Shaun Alexander,[30] Tom Osborne[28] Shanna Zolman, and Kay Yow‚ all of whom vocalized their Christian faith through FCA outlets such as banquets, camps and rallies.

Recent stars who have connected with FCA have included Josh Hamilton, Adam Wainwright, Brian Roberts,[31] Tim Tebow,[32] Tamika Catchings,[33] Jennie Finch, Andy Pettitte, Tommy Tuberville, Jim Kelly, John Harbaugh,[34] Leah O'Brien Amico,[29] John Smoltz, Allyson Felix [35] Mark Richt, Colt McCoy,[36] Andrew McCutchen[37] and a number of public figures outside the world of sports such as comedian Jeff Foxworthy,[38] former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee and Duck Dynasty star Willie Robertson.[39] Influential Christian leaders such as Billy Graham, Chip Ingram, Anne Graham Lotz and Tommy Nelson also have participated in FCA through resource development, camps or events.

FCA award winnersEdit

FCA presents six national awards every year to athletes and coaches who have excelled in specific areas of competition, community service and Christian character.[40]

  • Bobby Bowden Athlete of the Year: Named after former Florida State University football coach Bobby Bowden, this award is presented annually to a Division I FBS football player who conducts himself as a faith model in the community, in the classroom and on the field.[40] Nominees must have 3.0 GPA or better and must have the backing of his school‚ athletic director and head football coach. Winners have included Clemson wide receiver Hunter Renfrow (2018), Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph (2017), Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson (2016), Oklahoma center Ty Darlington (2015), Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty (2014), Texas A&M's offensive lineman Jake Matthews (2013),[41] Auburn linebacker Ashton Richardson (2012) and quarterbacks Case Keenum (2011), Christian Ponder (2010) and Colt McCoy (2009).[42]
  • Grant Teaff Coach of the Year: The Grant Teaff Coach of the Year Award is named after former Baylor University football coach Grant Teaff, who also served as the executive director of the American Football Coaches Association and member of the FCA National Board of Trustees.[40] The annual award recognizes a football coach who exemplifies Christian principles and maintains an active involvement with FCA. Previous winners include Iowa State's Matt Campbell (2018), Nebraska's Scott Frost (2017), Mike MacIntyre, Mike London, Tommy Bowden, Jerry Kill and Tommy Tuberville.[43]
  • Grant Teaff Lifetime Achievement Award: The second FCA award named after Teaff recognizes a football coach that has ‚committed his life to being a Christian influence on the lives of student-athletes.[40]‚ Previous winners include Dr. Homer Rice, Houston Nutt and Tony Dungy.[44]
  • Jerry Kindall Character in Coaching Award: Named after former Major League Baseball player and retired University of Arizona baseball coach Jerry Kindall, the Character in Coaching Award is presented annually to the college or high school baseball coach who ‚best exemplifies the Christian principles of Character, Integrity, Excellence, Teamwork and Service on and off the baseball field.[40]‚Äù Previous winners include University of Texas at San Antonio's Jason Marshall (2018), Greenville University's Lynn Carlson (2017), Ball State's Rich Maloney (2016), Rusty Stroupe, Scott Berry and Bubba Cates.[45]
  • John Lotz ‚Barnabas‚ Award: Named after former University of Florida basketball coach John Lotz and the Biblical character Barnabas first mentioned in Acts 4 as the ‚Son of Encouragement,[46]‚Äù this award honors a basketball coach who ‚best exhibits a commitment to Christ, integrity, encouragement to others and lives a balanced life.[40]‚ Previous winners include Baylor's Scott Drew (2019), North Carolina's Hubert Davis (2018), Presbyterian College's Gregg Nibert (2017), Tom Crean, Don Meyer, Billy Kennedy, Homer Drew and John Wooden.[47]
  • Kay Yow Heart of a Coach Award: First presented in 2008, this award was established to honor former North Carolina State University women's basketball coach Kay Yow died after a nearly 22-year battle with cancer. The award recognizes a women's basketball coach who‚ over the course of his or her career, has coached according to Biblical principles‚ and has coached the heart of the athlete, as well as the body and mind.[40]‚Previous winners include Liberty's Carey Green (2019), University of Colorado Springs' Lynn Plett (2018), Abilene Christian's Julie Goodenough (2017), Sue Semrau, Deb Patterson, Sue Ramsey and Kay Yow.[48]
  • Annually, FCA Lacrosse also awards the Peter Kohn Award, who was connected to the sport of lacrosse for 50 years. Kohn served as a manager with the U.S. National Team, the North-South All-Star game for 25-plus years and club teams in the United States Club Lacrosse Association for more than 20 years, as well as at Middlebury College and for numerous other lacrosse events. Kohn also served as a volunteer with FCA Lacrosse from 1988 until his death in 2009. Established in 1998, the award is given to a member of the lacrosse community who best represents the scripture, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13) and exemplifies the Christian principles of character, integrity, excellence and teamwork on and off the lacrosse field. Honorees have included: Brendan Looney (2019), Tom Hayes (2018) Mike Jolly (2017), Sgt. James J. Regan and Lead the Way Foundation (2016) and Aimee Dixon (2015).[49]
  • FCA also honors several names in sports through its annual Hall of Champions, established in 1991 to honor individuals who have demonstrated a consistent commitment to Jesus Christ through the ministry of FCA. They are considered volunteer “All Stars” who have given above and beyond the call of duty and have upheld the Four Core Values of FCA: Integrity, Serving, Teamwork and Excellence. Honorees for 2018 included: Don Cockroft, George Crace, Joel Dearing, Mark Mestemacher, Jerry Moore and Dr. Sam Nader. Other past honorees include sports greats such as Bobby Bowden, Tony Dungy, Tom Landry, Tom Osborne and Roger Staubach.[50]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d "Mission and Vision". Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
  2. ^ "404" (PDF). www.fca.org.
  3. ^ a b c "The Word According to Tom". SI.com.
  4. ^ "Rickey, Branch - Baseball Hall of Fame". Baseball Hall of Fame.
  5. ^ "Branch Rickey".
  6. ^ a b http://archives.fca.org/vsItemDisplay.lsp&objectID=C658F118-CB82-4DA8-A0CBD628E9B07F9C&method=display
  7. ^ a b c d "FCA History - Fellowship of Christian Athletes". Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
  8. ^ "2018 FCA Annual Report | 2018 FCA Annual Report".
  9. ^ a b "Statement of Faith". Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
  10. ^ a b c d e "Vision & Mission".
  11. ^ "FCASSM – Sports Betting Professionals".
  12. ^ Fellowship of Christian Athletes. "About Us". FCA Lacrosse.
  13. ^ "International". Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
  14. ^ "Ministry Leader Application". FCA. Retrieved 1 October 2014
  15. ^ a b "FCA Student Leader Application" (PDF). Retrieved 30 September 2018.
  16. ^ Whitehead, Jayson (27 March 2012). "Does practicing Christianity in UVA's locker rooms violate the Constitution? - C-VILLE Weekly". C-VILLE Weekly. Retrieved 30 September 2018.
  17. ^ Cruz, Maria (30 July 2018). "Torontonians threaten to boycott conservative fast-food chain Chick-fil-A - Womens Post". Womens Post.
  18. ^ a b c "Roanoke, Roanoke County schools end Christian ministry to football players". Roanoke Times. 30 September 2015. Retrieved 2 October 2015.
  19. ^ "Going " All-In " with the Watermelon Ministry". 10 August 2014.
  20. ^ "A Block, a Tackle and a Prayer . . . FCA Watermelon Ministry". 13 August 2009.
  21. ^ "Watermelon Outreach". 5 August 2015. Retrieved 17 October 2015.
  22. ^ "FCA: Watermelon Outreach". 5 August 2015. Retrieved 17 October 2015.
  23. ^ "FCA 2014-2015". 18 August 2015. Retrieved 17 October 2015.
  24. ^ a b Elliott, Patrick. "Letter to Roanoke City School Superintendent, 9/17/2015, from Freedom from Religion Foundation" (PDF). Retrieved 2 October 2015.
  25. ^ Chandler, Diana. "Chick-fil-A to New York: 'no political agenda'". bpnews.net. Retrieved 8 April 2017.
  26. ^ "Student Leader Application".
  27. ^ "Jenni Carlson's Q&: Fellowship of Christian Athletes founder Don McClanen". NewsOK.com. 27 June 2009.
  28. ^ a b c d FCA History. YouTube. 15 May 2007.
  29. ^ a b "Walker among speakers at FCA spring banquet". hhjonline.com.
  30. ^ FCA 2007 Promo DVD: Shaun Alexander. YouTube. 26 April 2007.
  31. ^ "Orioles' Roberts Is All Heart (washingtonpost.com)". www.washingtonpost.com.
  32. ^ Tim & Robbie Tebow Speak at an FCA Event In Lenox Georgia. YouTube. 8 April 2011.
  33. ^ FCA Online Ministry/Fellowship of Christian Athletes. "FCA Knoxville".
  34. ^ John Harbaugh - Speaker at MD FCA Banquet 2013. YouTube. 8 April 2013.
  35. ^ http://entertainment.accessatlanta.com/cartersville_ga/events/show/304097685-fca-banquet-guest-speaker-john-smoltz Archived 12 December 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  36. ^ "Winningest FBS Quarterback, Colt McCoy, 2011 FCA Banquet speaker". The Amplifier.
  37. ^ Andrew McCutchen talks about his faith with FCA. YouTube. 9 July 2012.
  38. ^ "Foxworthy shares 'gift God gave me' 101400 - The Augusta Chronicle". augusta.com.
  39. ^ "Duck Dynasty Star Willie Robertson Assist Fellowship of Christian Athletes". christianpost.com.
  40. ^ a b c d e f g "Athlete Awards - Coach Awards - Fellowship of Christian Athletes". Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
  41. ^ "Texas A& Aggies lineman Jake Matthews wins Bobby Bowden Award - ESPN". ESPN.com. 4 January 2014.
  42. ^ "Ashton Richardson Wins Bobby Bowden Award". auburntigers.com.
  43. ^ "MacIntyre Named FCA National Coach of the Year". CUBuffs.com.
  44. ^ "Grant Teaff Award Winners Announced". Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
  45. ^ "Jerry Kindall Character in Coaching Award". Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
  46. ^ "Barnabas in the Bible: An Encouraging Early Church Leader – Biblical Archaeology Society". Biblical Archaeology Society. 8 September 2018.
  47. ^ "Crean Named John Lotz "Barnabas" Award Winner - Fellowship of Christian Athletes". Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
  48. ^ "FSU WBB Head Coach Sue Semrau Wins FCA Kay Yow Heart Coach of the Year - Seminoles Chant". typepad.com.
  49. ^ "Award Winners". Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
  50. ^ "FCA | Hall of Champions | Hall of Honor – Hall of Champions".

External linksEdit