Legendary College Basketball Coach John Wooden Became Involved with FCA 60 Years Ago
During Most Exciting Time in College Basketball, Fellowship of Christian Athletes Reflects on the Faithful Service of John Wooden
KANSAS CITY, Mo.—Each March, college basketball fans undoubtedly look back on the coaching legends of the game—Jim Phelan, Dean Smith, Roy Williams, Jim Calhoun, Jim Boeheim, Adolph Rupp, Jimmy Valvano and many others. And John Wooden is always near the top of the list.
John Wooden was an active participant and staunch supporter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA, www.fca.org) and first became involved in the international sports ministry 60 years ago.
Synonymous with NCAA college basketball, Wooden’s teams at Indiana State and UCLA over 29 seasons displayed athletic excellence, with UCLA winning 10 national championships. Coach Wooden himself, who passed away in June 2010, is one of the few individuals to have been inducted as both a college player and coach into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
“As sports fans everywhere have been enjoying this incredibly exciting college basketball tournament, we can’t help but think back on the coaching giants of the sport,” said FCA President and CEO Shane Williamson. “His amazing accomplishments in sports still impact countless former players, other coaches and business leaders who were tremendously influenced by his leadership principles and life lessons found in his famous ‘Pyramid of Success.’ But even more than that, John Wooden was a quiet giant for Christ as well, sharing his faith over his career and always putting God first. Sixty years after his first involvement with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, we continue to be thankful for his life and commitment to this ministry.”
Many leaders and volunteers within FCA developed long-lasting relationships with Coach Wooden, who was involved with the ministry nearly from the start of its existence. Wooden first partnered with FCA in June 1958, and during his coaching career and in the 35 years after his retirement, Wooden attended and spoke at many FCA events.
“I first became involved in FCA when it was a young movement in the 1950s,” Wooden was quoted as saying. “I quickly discovered the impact it could have in the lives of athletes and coaches. Since I spent my time in that field, it was only natural that I became involved in FCA. I’m glad I did.”
Coach Wooden’s children and grandchildren attended many FCA camps, and he also personally presented, until a few years before his death at the age of 99, the John Wooden Keys to Life Award to an outstanding Christian athlete or coach during the Men’s Final Four Basketball Championship.
“FCA is a great organization, and it serves an outstanding purpose,” Wooden also said of the ministry. “It is a wonderful opportunity for young people. I like to see how it has progressed at the various campuses throughout the country.”
Decades since Coach Wooden’s initial involvement, countless people are still impacted by his FCA resources, such as devotionals, interviews and Bible studies. See the John Wooden collection of FCA resources here.
As it looks back at those who helped grow and shape the ministry, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes also reflects on the biblical principles that still drive FCA today. Nearly 1,600 staff and tens of thousands of donors and volunteers are grounded in FCA’s vision—to see the world transformed by Jesus Christ through the influence of coaches and athletes—and mission—to lead every coach and athlete into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ and His church.
Sharing the Gospel remains at the heart, and the call to pray, give and go. Additionally, FCA leaders hone in on FCA’s strategy of “To and Through the Coach” as a way to reach more for Christ. As a result, in 2017, FCA reached approximately 2 million people through ministry efforts that impacted coaches, athletes, families, school campuses and entire communities.
Read more about Fellowship of Christian Athletes here, visit FCA’s website at www.fca.org, its Facebook page at www.facebook.com/fcafans or its Twitter feed @fcanews.