For Immediate Release December 19, 2016
Deborah Hamilton, Hamilton Strategies, 215.815.7716, 610.584.1096, ext. 102, or Beth Harrison, 610.584.1096, ext. 104, Media@HamiltonStrategies.com
Fellowship of Christian Athletes Looks Back on Stellar Service of Retiring President Les Steckel
Eighth President and CEO Shane Williamson Will Take the Helm at FCA on January 1, 2017
KANSAS CITY, Mo.—Earlier this year, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA, www.fca.org) announced that Les Steckel, current president and CEO of the 62-year-old international sports ministry, will retire after his career with FCA at the close of 2016. Now, just days away from the end of his 12 years of outstanding service, FCA is looking back on Steckel’s accomplishments, achievements and his heart for the ministry and its entire team, which stretches across the globe.
“I wouldn’t have traded my years at FCA for any other position in the world,” Steckel said. “The passion of the vision and mission of this ministry is the same passion that is in my heart when we see coaches and athletes rise up to their God-given talent to truly impact all who are drawn to FCA.”
This fall, after a far-reaching and prayerful search of highly qualified candidates, the FCA National Board of Trustees and an executive search firm officially selected Shane Williamson, who is currently the FCA Director of Field Ministry, as the eighth president and CEO of FCA. Williamson, who has been involved with FCA for 24 years, will take the helm on Jan. 1, 2017.
“The foundation from which FCA builds upon from here has been firmly laid by Les and Chris Steckel,” Williamson said. “The man whom we will always refer to as ‘Coach’ guided this ministry through prayer, godly counsel and the leading of the Spirit to places once thought unimaginable. He and Chris have worked diligently to advance the ministry of FCA, all the while modeling our values of integrity, serving, teamwork and excellence.”
The current issue of FCA Magazine includes a tribute to “Coach,” as he is known within the FCA family. Several shared their sentiments about Steckel for the magazine.
“I watched God use Coach and Chris Steckel in a powerful way to shape and redirect the ministry of FCA. They have traveled this country in support of our local field staff, and our ministry will forever be different because of their sacrifice and service,” said Donnie Dee, Director of the Tom Landry Associates, Western Region FCA.
Added Julie Nimmons, FCA National Board of Trustees, “Les Steckel is an incredible leader, and it was a privilege and honor to serve Christ through FCA with him. Les modeled servant leadership and communicated a clear vision for FCA during his tenure as President and CEO. As Les and Chris begin a new chapter in the journey God prepared for them, they can do so with confidence that He will say, ‘… Well done, good and faithful servant.’ (Matthew 25:23, KJV)”
A veteran NFL coach, Steckel became the seventh president of FCA on March 1, 2005. Under his leadership, FCA staff nearly doubled from 727 to 1432, while the number of FCA Huddles—small group gatherings of coaches, athletes or teams to pray and study God’s Word—more than tripled, from 5,500 to 17,376. FCA’s extremely popular and successful Camps ministry experienced a five-fold increase, from 139 Camps to 740 Camps around the world in 2016. And Camp attendance quadrupled, from 27,954 to 106,268 this past summer. Internationally, FCA flourished over Steckel’s tenure, now serving in 60 countries with 133 leaders.
Steckel’s involvement with FCA dates back to 1972 when, as a college football coach, he attended his first FCA conference. In the more than 40 years since then, Steckel has served as a Huddle Leader, platform speaker, camp dean, football clinician at various FCA Camps across the nation and served regularly as a guest speaker for FCA events. Inside the FCA family, Steckel was known for personally calling each and every staff member on their birthday—that’s a total of 11,886 birthday calls over 12 years.
The longtime coach’s background spans many sports and interests. After spending five years as a college coach at the University of Colorado and the U.S. Naval Academy, Steckel began his NFL career with the San Francisco 49ers in 1978. His 23 years of coaching experience in the NFL includes serving as head coach of the Minnesota Vikings and offensive coordinator for the Tennessee Titans, whom he helped guide to the 2000 Super Bowl, as well as an offensive coach for the New England Patriots during their 1985 Super Bowl season. Additionally, he was the offensive coordinator for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and was a position coach with the Denver Broncos, Houston Oilers and Buffalo Bills.
A Golden Gloves boxing champion at the University of Kansas, the Whitehall, Pa., native graduated in 1968, then enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps, completed Officer Candidate School and served in Vietnam. In 1972, he joined the Marine Corps Reserves and served in various staff positions throughout the U.S. while coaching football for college and NFL teams until retiring from the military in 1999 as a colonel. Steckel received the Navy Commendation Medal, among other military awards.
Steckel’s 2006 autobiography, “One Yard Short: Turning Your Defeats Into Victories,” chronicles his life’s journey, which ultimately led him to Kansas City and FCA. The title is derived from the final play of the 2000 Super Bowl between the St. Louis Rams and Steckel’s Titans—a play that has been called one of the most exciting in Super Bowl history.
Les and his wife, Chris, who reside in Brentwood, Tenn., have regularly spoken at FCA marriage enrichment weekends, and prior to his selection as FCA president, both he and Chris served on the FCA National Board of Trustees. They are the parents of three adult children; four grandchildren complete the family.
As Steckel passes the baton to Williamson, there is a sentimental atmosphere around the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, mixed with an air of excitement, as the two men have devoted themselves to sports and the ministry of spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ around the globe.
To interview a representative from Fellowship of Christian Athletes, contact Deborah Hamilton at 215-815-7716 or 610-584-1096, ext. 102, or Beth Harrison at 610-584-1096, ext. 104, Media@HamiltonStrategies.com.
The Fellowship of Christian Athletes’ (FCA) vision is to see the world impacted for Jesus Christ through the influence of coaches and athletes. Its mission is to present to coaches and athletes, and all whom they influence, the challenge and adventure of receiving Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord and serving Him in their relationships and in the fellowship of the church. FCA’s guiding values are integrity, serving, teamwork and excellence.
Since 1954, FCA has challenged coaches and athletes to impact the world for Jesus Christ. FCA is cultivating Christian principles in local communities nationwide by encouraging, equipping and empowering others to serve as examples and to make a difference. Reaching approximately two million people annually on the professional, college, high school, junior high and youth levels, FCA focuses its efforts on its Four Cs of Ministry: Coaches, Campus, Camps and Community.
- FCA Coaches Ministry focuses on ministering to the heart of the coach first, and then supporting coaches as they engage with FCA’s Four Cs through huddles, events, training and resources.
- The school campus is one of the most strategic mission fields with the vast majority of all youth passing through this portal. FCA Campus Ministry focuses on equipping, enabling, empowering and encouraging coaches, student athletes and adult leaders to impact and influence their campus for Christ.
- FCA Camps are a time of “inspiration and perspiration” for coaches and athletes to reach their potential by offering comprehensive athletic, spiritual, and leadership training through seven types of Camps: Sports, Leadership, Coaches, Power, Partnership, Team and International Camps.
- FCA Community Ministry is the off-campus opportunity to reach coaches and athletes for Christ through the club and recreation sport environment.