TYLER — The Fellowship of Christian Athletes has a rich history dating back to 1954 when the international, non-profit Christian sports ministry was founded in Kansas City.
FCA's mission is to, “lead every coach and athlete into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ and His church.”
Last Sunday at First Baptist Church, the Northeast Texas Chapter of the FCA unveiled the all-stars who will be playing in three games this coming June.
“The basis of our ministry is our coaches and athletes,” said Northeast Texas FCA area director Robert Bardin via telephone on Friday. “They can influence others through the platform they have.”
Bardin said the goal is simple: To share the message of Christ.
The Northeast Texas FCA serves one of the largest areas in the country, with mainly 14 counties represented.
“We will have 70 high schools represented through these all-star games, it's about 17-18 counties we are drawing from,” Bardin noted.
Twenty years ago, Bardin reported, the West Texas FCA chapter began playing all-star games as a means of true “fellowship.”
These games have branched out to other parts of Texas, and the country.
This will mark the ninth all-star football game. Five years ago, then Carthage coach Matt Folmar (now at White Oak) suggested to play an all-star softball game — and baseball followed suit the next year.
The Chick-fil-A FCA all-star football game is set for 6:30 p.m. on June 8 at Trinity CHRISTUS Mother Frances Rose Stadium in Tyler — returning to the Rose City after two years in Longview at Lobos Stadium.
The softball game is set for 7 p.m. on June 7 at the University of Texas-Tyler's Suddenlink Field. The baseball game will take place at the same time, at UT-Tyler's Irwin Field.
About 300 athletes — and coaches — will participate in these games, with Palestine, Elkhart and Frankston all well-represented.
One of the players who has been selected is Elkhart pitcher/outfielder Brady Johnson.
“It's a big honor for Brady, who has been with our program for all four years on varsity,” said Elkhart head baseball coach John Adair. “I'm very happy he's been selected.”
Players are nominated by their coaches, and there is a draft to determine the selection process.
John's wife, Shelly, is the coordinator for Elkhart's FCA, and the group meets twice monthly.
Other Elkhart selections were Makayla Walker (outfielder, softball) and Seth Hofmann (offensive lineman, football).
Last year, current Palestine head coach Regis Andrez was named assistant coach of the year by the North Texas FCA chapter when he helped skipper Dallas Bryan Adams' softball program.
This year, Andrez will be an assistant coach on the Red team along with former Frankston and current Grand Saline head coach Marc Chitty.
Palestine offensive lineman Dejuan Ealy and softball outfielder Amirah Wyse have been chosen to represent the 'Cats this summer.
“It's a big deal to me, I'm excited to jump on an opportunity like this,” Andrez said, “and it's good for our school.”
FCA is one of the many clubs offered at Palestine High School, with coach Randall Reeves administering the program.
“It's a vehicle for us to create a well-rounded student-athlete, in my opinion,” said Palestine athletic director/football coach Robby Clark.
For Ealy, selection for this all-star game can only help him in recruiting.
Last year, Waylon Nickerson was selected for the game, and he eventually joined the football team at East Texas Baptist University.
Ealy would be ideal for an NCAA Division III or NAIA program, and Dejuan can list this as one of his accomplishments on his resume.
In addition to football, softball and baseball, a squad of cheerleaders were selected to perform.
Frankston head baseball coach Sebastian Stargell has been chosen to be an assistant on the Blue team at the FCA event.
Other Indians and Maidens set for the weekend are Boogie Krajca (baseball, outfielder), Luke King (football, linebacker) and Trinity Boggs (softball, outfielder).
FCA's world headquarters are located across the street from the Truman Sports Complex in Kansas City, home of both the Chiefs and Royals. The organization's founder was Don Mclanen, a former college basketball coach in Oklahoma who resigned to become its full-time director.
Early supporters of the FCA were Branch Rickey, the former owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers, and former Cleveland Browns' quarterback Otto Graham.
FCA's core values are: Integrity, serving, teamwork and excellence — with each core value represented by a corresponding scripture in The Holy Bible. The organization has spread to 60 countries throughout the world.
Bardin said the Northeast Texas Chapter will be adding another sport for all-star competition in 2020; but, the official announcement won't be made until June.
Editor's Note: This column doesn't necessarily reflect the views of the Palestine Herald-Press, or its parent company, CNHI.