For Immediate Release December 13, 2016
Beth Harrison, Hamilton Strategies, 610.584.1096, ext. 104, Media@HamiltonStrategies.com or Deborah Hamilton, 215.815.7716, 610.584.1096, ext. 102
As College Football Standouts Prep for Bowl Games, They Keep Their Eyes Fixed on Jesus
Fellowship of Christian Athletes Magazine Profiles More Than 50 Players and How They Are ‘Bold and Courageous’ for the Lord—Both On and Off the Football Field
KANSAS CITY, Mo.—This week begins one of the most exciting times in college football. With more than 40 bowl games kicking off this weekend and continuing through January, it’s a college football fan’s dream.
More than 50 college football standouts, including many playing in these upcoming bowl games, have talked to Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA, www.fca.org) Magazine about their faith and why being “bold and courageous” for Christ helps guide their lives both on and off the football field.
“It was awe-inspiring to gather the stories from more than 50 Christ-following college football standouts for our seventh annual college football edition,” said Clay Meyer, FCA Magazine editor. “In the Old Testament book of Joshua, God motivated this young warrior by telling him, ‘This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.’ Today, that means that we can take our faith with us wherever we go, even onto the football field, and God will be with us. We hope that this most recent college football issue will inspire others to be bold and courageous in their own faith—no matter where God places them.”
Vying for the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship will be No. 4 Washington vs. No. 1 Alabama in the Playoff Semifinal at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl at 3 p.m. ET Dec. 31. Then at 7 p.m. ET on New Year’s Eve, No. 3 Ohio State will take on No. 2 Clemson at the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl. The winners of these two matchups will meet in Tampa on Jan. 9, 2017, for the championship game.
Players from three of these championship-seeking teams had this to say about their faith journeys:
- JK Scott—Alabama—“My identity is in Christ, not in football, and that changes everything. When I truly believe what He says about me, nothing else really matters. My boldness and courage come from that.”
- Artavis Scott—Clemson—“You only really learn the strength of your spine when your back is against the wall. ‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.’ Hebrews 13:8 (HCSB).”
- Andy Teasdall—Clemson—“No matter what I face, I keep my eyes fixed ahead on the Lord and continue to keep moving forward. With Him, everything will be all right.”
- K.J. Carta-Samuels—Washington—“I have recognized that God is my Father, and as His son I have been able to let go of control and have been set free to live.”
- Trevor Walker—Washington—“I am bold and courageous in my faith in God because He has showed me before that He does exist. He has helped me and my family out of obstacles we didn’t think we’d come out of, and we give all credit to Him.”
Additionally, these bowl games will feature players who are keeping their eyes on Jesus in all things and commented to FCA what being “bold and courageous” in their faith means to them (all times ET):
Las Vegas Bowl | 3:30 p.m. December 17 | Houston vs. San Diego State
- Tyus Bowser—Houston—“My teammates, my family and FCA’s Kevin Washington have always helped give me the right direction and tools to stay strong and bold in my faith. I understand that God is in control of everything.”
Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl | 4:30 p.m. December 23 | Louisiana Tech vs. Navy
- Dishan Romine—Navy—“As a follower of Christ, I try to exemplify His teachings through my words and actions. Even on the football field in front of thousands of fans, I visibly give thanks for the opportunity I have to play the game I love.”
- Sean Williams—Navy—“To be courageous in my faith means to wear it on my sleeve. I feel it is my responsibility to do so while I compete in such an exposed sport as football.”
St. Petersburg Bowl | 11 a.m. December 26 | Miami OH vs. Mississippi State
- Gabe Myles—Mississippi State—“When you limit yourself, you limit God. And God has no limits, so with God I have no limits. That’s how I’m bold and courageous in my faith.”
- Josiah Phillips—Mississippi State—“I draw upon Hebrews 13:5-6 (KJV), ‘… for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.’”
Camping World Independence Bowl | 5 p.m. December 26 | NC State vs. Vanderbilt
- Woody Cornwell—NC State—“I am bold and courageous in my faith by focusing on my relationship with Christ and choosing to live as a disciple of Him. As a result, my life looks much different than many of my peers because Jesus calls his followers to be different—Isaiah 40:30-31, Luke 9:23 and Romans 12:2, 12.”
- Connor Haskins—NC State—“I am bold and courageous because I am not afraid to talk about my faith. If someone comes to me wanting to know how I keep my faith, I will sit down and have a discussion with them.”
Motel 6 Cactus Bowl | 10:15 p.m. December 27 | Boise State vs. Baylor
- Chaz Anderson—Boise State—“‘Do not be conformed to this present world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may test and approve what is the will of God …’ – Romans 12:2 (NET). That is the verse I live by and stand strong in.”
- Jake Roh—Boise State—“I’m bold and courageous in my faith by trusting in God’s plan that He has placed me in the situation I’m in for a reason.”
- Lynx Hawthorne—Baylor—“There has never been anyone who’s lived more boldly or courageously than Jesus did, and as Christians we are called to live like Him. Therefore, each day I try to live in a way that reflects to others that He lives in me.”
- Seth Russell—Baylor—“I am bold and courageous in my faith because I am a living testament to the love and grace God gives to us all. Through Christ, I am able to play football with no worries because I know Christ has given the ultimate sacrifice so that we may live through Him.”
Foster Farms Bowl | 8:30 p.m. December 28 | Indiana vs. Utah
- Dimitric Camiel—Indiana—“I am bold and courageous in my faith by speaking about it publicly and having no fear because God has the ultimate plan for my life. No matter what, I trust in Him, and He will direct my path.”
- Wes Martin—Indiana—“Every day I go out to practice and know the good Lord is watching over me. I can do all things through Him, so I can go out there and put everything I have into the game and not worry about the outcome. I know He controls the end product.”
AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl | 9 p.m. December 28 | Texas A&M vs. Kansas State
- Koda Martin—Texas A&M—“Because of what Christ has done for me, I fight to give everything I have, no matter the circumstances. Any time I struggle, I pray, and God gives me a new mindset. The joy of the Lord is my strength.”
- Alex Sezer Jr.—Texas A&M—“I’m bold and courageous in my faith because I know my help and strength comes from God. All of my help comes from the Lord, and with backup like that I have no choice but to be bold. I represent His name and authority; therefore I am courageous.”
Texas A&M quarterback Trevor Knight is the cover feature on this issue of FCA Magazine, and because of a shoulder injury in November, his season has not turned out the way many had planned. The once-Heisman hopeful was recently honored with the Wuerffel Trophy, which recognizes a student-athlete’s commitment to community service. He is still expected to play in AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl, but his senior year will not go down how it was perhaps written in his playbook.
Knight told FCA that being bold and courageous in his faith—even in the face of adversity—means putting his confidence in the Lord. And his words are especially poignant after his injury.
“As athletes,” he said, “we tend to put our confidence in our performance, and unfortunately that’s eventually going to fail us. If I ride the roller coaster of life as it relates to football, I’ll never be satisfied. Rising up and putting all my courage and faith in Jesus is the only thing that’s going to keep me at an even keel, through the ups and downs of life and sports.
“On a football team,” he continued, “being bold and courageous in my faith means serving my teammates—working hard for my teammates, playing for the guy next to me, serving the people around me, truly asking my teammates how their day is going or what’s going on in their lives. Being intentional with them as people, not just as football players. Then just having a mentality of, ‘I’m choosing God first in every situation. I’m going to live that out and be an example to the people around me, to truly create that culture of Christ in a locker room.’”
Knight, who also wrote a devotional for the most recent FCA Magazine titled “The Roller Coaster of Life,” said that his faith has impacted his life and his football career, especially as he works through challenges.
“What I love about sports, and specifically football,” he said, “is they are such a parallel to life. I’m going to go through adversity like it talks about in James 1. But through all the ups and downs, I’ll put God first and allow Him to work in my life regardless of the circumstances, to get me through the challenges and celebrate the achievements. I truly believe God has blessed me with these abilities in order to serve Him and share His name with a whole bunch of people. Young kids care (about) what I have to say, especially for these four or five years of my life. I want to use that platform for good and be an example for Christ and hopefully change the lives of young kids—or anybody for that matter—all over the country.”
Belk Bowl | 5:30 p.m. December 29 | Arkansas vs. Virginia Tech
- Cody Hollister—Arkansas—“I’m bold and courageous in my faith by living every day in pursuit of Jesus, which often means being in opposition with the world. Every day is a fight against the ways of this world, but Jesus empowered us to fight when He won the war on the cross.”
- Deatrich Wise Jr.—Arkansas—“I’m bold and courageous through Christ because He wants me to walk by faith, not by sight. I try to stay kneeling before God so that I can stand tall before men. I am bold and courageous through my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
- Woody Baron—Virginia Tech—“The power of Christ inside of me allowed me to take that first step towards Him and accept Him into my life. Those were bold steps for me.”
- Isaiah Ford—Virginia Tech—“The ultimate test of being bold and courageous in my faith was continuing to walk the straight line, even as a student-athlete. I always try to be my best and be as Christ-like as possible.”
Valero Alamo Bowl | 9 p.m. December 29 | Oklahoma State vs. Colorado
- Gyasi Akem—Oklahoma State—“Being bold and courageous is about not being afraid of what you believe in. I want people to know what I’m all about, and that’s my faith.”
- Victor Salako—Oklahoma State—“I am bold and courageous in my faith because I tell myself every day to never change who I am as a person and never conform to things I was not raised to become.”
- Alex Kelley—Colorado—“Being bold and courageous in my faith is just living out my daily activities and trying to be Christ-like. I try to be a light on this campus and on this team. It can be hard sometimes, but that is my main focus every day.”
- Derek McCartney—Colorado—“Every day I try to check myself with the Lord and ask Him to forgive me for my sins. I try to reach out to my teammates and let them know I’m praying for them when things are going on or tough things are happening.”
Colorado coach Mike MacIntyre was recently honored with the 2016 Walter Camp Coach of the Year and has talked about his faith through this football season and throughout his coaching career. In January 2013, FCA honored MacIntyre with Grant Teaff National Coach of the Year Award following his strong 2012 season with San Jose State. He was hired by Colorado in early 2013.
At the time of the Grant Teaff award, former FCA executive director and longtime college football coach Dal Shealy said, “Mike MacIntyre took over a San Jose State program in disarray and turned it around. He hired a group of fellow Christians to join his coaching staff and, not only built a winner, but really got a lot of people in that community on board. Through the years, he’s been one of FCA’s greatest supporters.”
MacIntyre also recently told the Denver Post that any rebuilding time in a coaching stint is challenging. He now presides over a program that has turned the corner in his fourth season, finishing No. 10 this season in the College Football Playoff standings, finishing 10-3 and winning the Pac-12 South Division. The Buffaloes ultimately fell to a strong Washington team in the Pac-12 championship game.
“When you know it’s a rebuild, you dig in the trenches, you start walking and you take a step every day,” McIntyre said. “The way my family and I have been able to do it is through our relationship with Jesus Christ and our faith and to be able to stay positive and realize there’s hope.
AutoZone Liberty Bowl | Noon December 30 | Georgia vs. TCU
- Jeb Blazevich—Georgia—“God gives me courage to show who I am in Christ. And with our culture, that’s the boldest statement you can make.”
- Quincy Mauger—Georgia—“Courage is walking by faith, trusting that God will provide me with everything I need in life while I try to spread His Word.”
- Austin Schlottmann—TCU—“I am courageous and bold in my faith because I know God will have my back and help me through whatever I am going through. Through adversity or success, I can always count on Him to be there for me and help me.”
- Ty Summers—TCU—“I don’t let what the world says about God and my faith affect the way I live my life. Because Jesus died for me, I will live for Him!”
Hyundai Sun Bowl | 2 p.m. December 30 | Stanford vs. North Carolina
- Harrison Phillips—Stanford—“I am bold in my faith because I openly show and share my love with Jesus by praying daily, reading the Bible, and trying to allow God’s image to be seen in me. And, I am willing to put my team first. It takes courage to be humble and face humility for the greater good.”
- Andre Smith—North Carolina—“I’m very bold and courageous in my faith. That is helped by my pastor in Jacksonville, and my neighbor there, KJ Myers, and his program, Lack of Worries. During the summer I met with North Carolina chaplain Mitch Mason every week and we talked about faith and important messages.”
- Ryan Switzer—North Carolina—“I believe I’m here because of the talents and abilities that God has given me. I’m not shy about putting my belief in God out there. I’ve been blessed with a great family who brought me up that way. I hope I can continue to carry on that faith with my family.”
Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl | 3:30 p.m. December 30 | Nebraska vs. Tennessee
- LaTroy Lewis—Tennessee—“I’m bold and courageous in my faith because I’m not afraid to openly express how I feel about God, my faith and what Christianity means to me. I’m not afraid to share with my teammates and bring them along with me to different community outreach events.”
- Josh Smith—Tennessee—“Prayer is key for me because not everyone has the same views I do. Staying in the Word is important too, because it’s easy to get caught up in all the distractions. For me, it’s been about finding that good group of guys and holding each other accountable in our faith and staying strong.”
Capital One Orange Bowl | 8 p.m. December 30 | Michigan vs. Florida State
- Alec Eberle—Florida State—“In order to be bold and courageous in my faith, I try to use the platform God has given me with football to give back to the community and to those in need.”
- Roderick Johnson—Florida State—“Growing up in the church and continuing to go helps me be very bold and courageous in Christ, especially as an athlete.”
Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl | 11 a.m. December 31 | LSU vs. Louisville
- Caleb Lewis—LSU—“I am bold and courageous in my faith by striving to seek humility while being confidently driven towards my God-given purpose.”
- D. Moore—LSU—“The truth that, ‘If God is for us, who can be against us?’ (Romans 8:31, NIV) is what inspires me to be bold and courageous. As I engage with my teammates, I seek to let the light of Christ shine through me each day.”
- Colin Holba—Louisville—“I have been challenged to live out what I talk about with God. Being someone who people look at and watch in the locker room is a big responsibility to not only act like Christ, but to lead as a servant as He did for us.”
Rose Bowl | 5 p.m. January 2 | USC vs. Penn State
- Jordan Austin—USC—“In today’s world, it can be difficult staying true to your beliefs and what God wants for your life. I believe every day you stay true to who you are, it is a successful day in God’s Kingdom. I am unashamed of the gospel because of the power of Christ.”
Allstate Sugar Bowl | 8:30 p.m. January 2 | Auburn vs. Oklahoma
- Marcus Davis—Auburn—“What is a bold faith? I think of my grandmother, who was insistent and persistent in planting that seed in me and helping it grow. She built a foundation of faith in me and made sure I realized the importance of it. And now my faith is everything. It’s how I make it through each and every day.”
- Johnathan “Rudy” Ford—Auburn—“Trusting God is the boldest thing you can do—realizing you can’t make it by yourself and turning it all over to Him. Doing that is not easy at first, but it’s so freeing and powerful. Trust and believe, and it will change your entire life.”
- Samaje Perine—Oklahoma—“I never let myself be influenced by negativity. There’s always a right and wrong way to go through life. I’m always looking to do right by God, no matter what anyone has to say about it.”
- Jaxon Uhles—Oklahoma—“God has given me the opportunity to live out my dream and play football at Oklahoma. Walking on hasn’t been easy. I’ve had to continue to rely on my faith to help me through this process over the past three years.”
Fellowship of Christian Athletes recently announced that FCA President and CEO Les Steckel will retire at year-end, and FCA’s current Executive Director of Field Ministry, Shane Williamson, will take the helm as president and CEO on Jan. 1, 2017. Williamson has been involved with FCA for 24 years, and Steckel will depart FCA after 12 years of outstanding service and whole-hearted dedication to the ministry.
To interview a representative from Fellowship of Christian Athletes, contact Beth Harrison at 610-584-1096, ext. 104, Media@HamiltonStrategies.com, or Deborah Hamilton at 215-815-7716 or 610-584-1096, ext. 102.
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.