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Fellowship of Christian Athletes pass faith through team, coaches
Devotional music from the Fellowship of Christian Athletes morning meeting at Flowery Branch High School Thursday. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

Reaching the student athlete as well as the coaches is the goal of Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

But whoever is influenced along the way is just another blessing to FCA area director Jason Lester.

"We say we want to influence the athletes and coaches and then all whom they influence," said Lester, who has been the area director for four years. "We know that they are the influence on a campus, whether they are a good influence or not, we want to take them through FCA and our coaches as well and encourage them to be a godly influence.

"We know if we get the athletes and coaches involved, we are going to draw anybody and everybody."

Lester is a former teacher and football coach at Johnson and North Hall high schools and is the first FCA area director in Hall County. He is a Johnson High graduate and has been a member at Pleasant Hill Baptist Church for 15 years.

"Being the area director we coordinate with those huddle coaches," Lester said. "I’m kind of the go-between with them, to encourage them and equip them and empower them to do what they do on the campus."

Each school with an FCA club has a teacher or a coach sponsor the group at the school and then students are part of the club leadership as well. To influence the students and coaches on a weekly basis, FCA holds a morning huddle at all Gainesville and Hall County middle and high schools. The huddle will usually have a speaker, music and prayer before school.

East Hall Middle School has one of the largest crowds with about 300 students as members; most high schools average about 60 to 70 members.

"I feel like it’s a place where a lot of people come and aren’t really worried about if they are going to be accepted by certain people — but it is high school," said Taylor Alexander, a huddle leader at Flowery Branch High School. "Realistically though it is probably the most positive place that you could end up in the morning at school."

Alexander joined FCA his junior year at Flowery Branch and still helps to lead the music during the huddle even after he graduated in December.

On Thursday morning there were between 20 and 30 students at the Flowery Branch huddle, which is just one of the ways FCA ministers to students.

Other activities throughout the year, as well as summer camps, provide students with that godly influence year round.

"We have leadership camps, coaches camp, coach’s family camps, football team camps, wrestling team camps, captains camp," Lester said. "Anytime you can put God in the middle of something and he is able to work and dig and scratch within a team, it just sucks those guys together.

"Whatever camp they end up going to, it is a great atmosphere and FCA does a great job."

Last summer, North Hall High had the chance to take their football players to FCA team football camp at West Georgia College & State University, and head coach Bob Christmas said the experience just pulls the team together.

"We’ve been going to it eight or nine years now," said Christmas, who takes the upperclassmen to the camp. "There’s a lot of seven-on-seven camps out there, but I really like the spiritual emphasis ... I just feel like it also helps our kids come together as a team and do a little bonding."

Lester said the key to a successful FCA program is the coach’s involvement in each school program.

"There’s no greater influence than a coach," he said. "What we really want to do is get them to a point to where winning is not the most important thing. We are blessed in Hall County ... I think we have godly superintendents in Mrs. (Merrianne) Dyer and Mr. (Will) Schofield who hire godly principals who hire godly men and women, teachers and coaches. I think when you start at the top ... you start to hire this quality of people — it trickles down into our kids."