4 football teams due at Christian Athletes gathering

Published 2:00 am Saturday, September 29, 2012

With four football teams on the field, Fellowship of Christian Athletes sponsors hope that Oct. 10 is shaping up to be bigger than any football game of the season.

Beginning at 6:30 p.m., hundreds of athletes will pack Balzli Stadium-Farrell Field on Grove Street for Fields of Faith, said FCA District 6 Director Alonzo Stevens.

District 6 covers Warren, Claiborne and Adams counties.

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“It’s the first time in Vicksburg that we’re doing that,” Stevens said. “With the head coaches on board, it’s going to be a great night.”

Fields of Faith is a national initiative to unite student athletes and community members in a night of Christian ministry, Stevens said.

Football teams from Vicksburg, Warren Central, St. Aloysius and Porters Chapel high schools will be at the event, and two athletes and a coach from each school will share a Christian testimonial. Often standing in front of a crowd and sharing personal stories of faith can be more challenging than any fourth-quarter situation, Stevens said.

“It takes a lot of nerve,” Stevens said.

Having coaches and peers play a role in sharing faith is important, he said, because some students might not have a positive influence in their home lives, said Stevens, who retired last year after coaching football at VHS for more than 20 years, 11 of those as head coach. The Christian message is powerful but walking a straight and narrow path can be difficult for teens to wrap their heads around, he said.

“It holds you accountable for what you do, and a lot of kids don’t want to be held accountable,” he said. “I always tell them it might not be what you want to hear.”

The FCA message has been more prominent over the years with such celebrity athletes and coaches as Tony Dungy and Tim Tebow supporting the organization, Stevens said.

What many high school athletes don’t realize is that they are equivalent to superstars in the eyes of younger students, he said.

Dungy was a longtime coach in the National Football League who now is a motivational speaker. Tebow is a New York Jets quarterback who gained national attention for his prayers on the football field while playing at the University of Florida.

“You can demand anything you want from the way you act,” Stevens said.

FCA avoids no topics, Stevens said, and organizers speak frankly with teens on the consequences of drugs, alcohol and premarital sex.

“There is no doubt in my mind that a lot of the problems that we have, FCA is a great deterrent,” Stevens said.

If you go

Fields of Faith, 6:30 p.m., Oct. 10 at Balzli Stadium-Farrell Field at Vicksburg Catholic School.