Florida Leader: Following the Faithful Path

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Mosley High School pairs sports with spirituality

Every Friday morning, a diverse group of students gather in the A. Crawford Mosley High School gymnasium to start off the weekend with a warm up. Swimmers stretch their arms over members of the football team and all bow their heads to think about the “game” ahead and the defenses they’ll use. Strategies for an upcoming match, perhaps? Not quite.

These students belong to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and for them, it’s all about humble prayer on Fridays. After the prayer, one student athlete shares a Bible-based presentation with the group over doughnuts and cold orange juice provided by advisors Debbie Funkhouser and Bill Graff. The students meet until the bell rings for first period.

FCA began nationally in 1954 and seeks to “present to athletes and coaches, and all whom they influence, the challenge and adventure of receiving Jesus Christ.” What makes FCA a little different from other service organizations is that it puts God first in every decision, says Jeremy Mace, a sophomore football player. “It brings me closer to the Lord, and helps me do more things His way, and has taught how to live a better life,” he says.

For Ellen Whitton, a senior swimmer, joining FCA was natural because she had always attended parochial schools. “Since I knew that public high school might be different from religious private schools, I decides that I needed to be involved with a club that would benefit my religious fellowship,” she says. Joining FCA has taught her that she’s not alone in her Christian faith. FCA has given her confidence to serve as a leader for others and helps her share her faith by just being herself.

“We’re the only club that doesn’t pay due because we realize that not everyone has the money to spend on dues for a club, and we don’t want to alienate people,” Whitton says.

For senior golfer Sam Shivers, FCA offered answers to her questions about God. Growing up, playing sports was what kept her grounded. “It helped me learn self-discipline and how to work with others in a team,” she says. When she arrived at Mosley, the idea of a club that spread a religious message with an athletic twist was appealing. When she began attending the weekly meetings, questions filled her head about heaven and prayer. “But FCA helped me to see that the self discipline I’ve learned from athletics could be equally beneficial in my walk with the Lord,” she says.

As 2003-2004 FCA vice president, Shivers says that a good leader must be able to present a position and successfully campaign for his or her organization. Her favorite project has been the afternoon canned food drive that the club holds each year around the holidays season. The canned food drive is unique because the group meets one afternoon, gets about an hour and a half to go into the community and collect as many cans as possible, and then brings them back to the school for counting. Students raid their friends’ houses all in the name of charity. “There’s just something about going to your friends’ houses and raiding their pantry that I just can’t get enough of,” she says. “The best thing, though, is I’m having tons of fun and helping people in need in my community.” Shivers served as VP for club president Shane Medaris, a 2004 graduate, who sums up the impact FCA had on his leadership skills by revealing personal cause and effect: “I’ve become more responsible because as president, I had to make sure we had speakers, and if someone didn’t show up, I had to fill in on the spot!”

Along with weekly spiritual presentations and services, the group holds fun nights at the school to offer a break from classes and participates in regional FCA activities. According to Whitton, nothing beats the FCA Olympics held for all the FCA chapters in their region. “We have chariot races and its open to all FCAs, and all the students get together and play games,” she says. “For a night, there are no cliques and school separation, but a team in Christ.”

Drew Robbins’ baseball teammates were in FCA, and as an athlete and Christian, he felt that FCA would be a perfect fit. “It has had a very influential impact on my life,” says the spring 2004 graduate. “I love getting together with my friends and glorifying God at the same time.” He says that by being in a position of leadership, there always are other people watching, and this makes leaders accountable for their actions. FCA leadership has taught him that good leaders lead by example more than anything else and also guide and help others in need. “FCA has helped me grow more spiritually than any other time period of my life,” he says.

Junior Tiffany Harmon got interested in FCA after hearing about it from her teammates on the softball and volleyball teams. Becoming a member of the club led her to make changes in her life. “It’s made me realize that I wasn’t living as much like a Christian as I should be,” she says. “I love the people in FCA because we help each other so much through everything, like one big family.”

Debbie Funkhouser has been one of the leaders of the FCA family since she started teaching at Mosley six years ago. Since serving as a teacher sponsor, Funkhouser says she’s watched the group grow from mornings with five or six students to a membership of 60 students. “My own spiritual relationship with God is what motivates me to serve as the FCA advisor,” she says.

FCA seeks to keep teens on the right path by regularly meeting on friday mornings to start the weekend positively, in hopes that the students remember the spiritual message when they go out with their friends. Hearing students talk about their faith in their own words has impacted Funkhouser in a great way. “It’s a great thing when kids teach teachers,” she says.

contact funkhouser at funkhdc@mail.bay.k12.fl.us.or visit www.fca.org

–Ashley Cisneros
Ashley Cisneros is a co-founder of Chatter Buzz Media, an Orlando Internet marketing firm that helps companies and organizations engage with their target markets through inbound marketing via the Internet. Chatter Buzz Media, which won the Social Madness competition for the Orlando small business market, is a full-service digital marketing firm specializing in website design, search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing and content creation. Prior to founding Chatter Buzz, Ashley worked as a newspaper reporter, magazine editor, technical writer, marketing manager, public relations practitioner and freelance journalist. To see Ashley’s content writing, visit www.ashleycisneros.com. You can also reach Ashley on her Google profile.

By | 2017-04-28T07:32:46+00:00 November 25th, 2004|Categories: Blog, Samples|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

About the Author:

Ashley Cisneros Mejia is a journalist, entrepreneur and marketer. She began her career as a newspaper reporter and later as an editor at Florida Trend business magazine. Ashley has worked as a professional freelance writer since 2009, as a technical writer, marketing manager, and public relations practitioner. She also founded two digital marketing agencies in Orlando. Named one of Orlando’s 40 Under 40 and honored by the Women’s Executive Council of Orlando for achievements in media and communications, Ashley earned a B.S. in Journalism and an M.S. in Entrepreneurship at the University of Florida.

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