By Smarty Teen Blogger, Olivia Clark
One day a year, students run franticly in a sweaty gym to sign up for various student-run clubs, most likely to look good on college applications. This day is the infamous Club Day. In the front and center of this grand exhibit stands the poster representing a club so meaningful, so effective, and so beneficial that it is the largest Christian Athlete nonprofit organization in North America. This club is known as Fellowship of Christian Athletes, or FCA for short.
We are extremely blessed that Charlotte Catholic is an active part of this nationwide organization. Represented by various coaches from around the school, the club currently has 117 student members and counting, all of whom are thrilled to be able to use their athleticism to make a change. The club presidents work diligently with various schools, organizations, and parishes to arrange and schedule FCA events. This past September, about 40 members partnered up with a Christian School for Inner-City Charlotte to provide a field day for under-resourced children in our community, offering the children an opportunity to learn about sports, teamwork, commitment, and leadership from student-athletes themselves.
Brookstone School is a non-denominational Christian school that offers education to those that are unable to afford a private Christian school. The school depends on support from other schools, organizations, churches, and foundations to help fund their annual budget in order to keep a minimal tuition for the families of attending students. Acting as a safe haven for under-resourced children in Charlotte, Brookstone leads and supports them spiritually, academically, and socially in ways that these children may never have received otherwise. Now 12 years old, the school continues to flourish and grow as more and more people are learning of its existence and incredible mission. Hopefully, word of the non-profit, Christ-centered school will continue to spread and draw more people to support, volunteer, and facilitate in the school’s purpose of guiding children to a promising future of faith and leadership.
On a Friday morning in September, 40 juniors and seniors from FCA, representing Charlotte Catholic’s football, volleyball, soccer, and cheerleading teams, loaded onto a bus, not fully aware of what to expect upon arriving at Brookstone. Anxious and excited for the club’s first event of the school year, we came bearing all sorts of footballs, soccer balls, hula-hoops, jump ropes and goodie bags. We were greeted by several faculty members who were more than gracious about our volunteering with the children. I will never forget the pictures, quotes, and student-made artwork that decorated the front lobby, giving the school an initial sense of amiability. I only grew fonder of the school and its mission as I passed the classrooms on the way to the gym, seeing children hard at work and active in their studies. As we made our way into the gym, we made the decision to create a human tunnel for the children to pass through as they enter the assembly; the reaction of the kids, especially the younger ones, was priceless. Being a Christian organization, we of course began the assembly with a prayer, then introduced ourselves and gave a quick run down of what we had in store for the day. The real fun, however, didn’t start until we stepped onto the field outside.
On the field, we divided the children, grades K-8, into three groups according to age and assigned them to either the soccer, volleyball, or football/cheerleading station. By the end of the day, the children rotated between each of the stations, allowing them to get a feel for all of the various sports being taught that day. Incidentally, we ended up playing Duck-Duck-Goose with the youngest kids for a majority of the time, considering they enjoyed that more than our soccer station activities. However, their cooperation was remarkable. Every child I encountered that day, regardless of age, acted mannerly, respectfully, and with appreciation for all of us volunteers. They profusely thanked us, hugged us, and begged us to return again the next week. Surely, if schoolwork had permitted, we would have returned the following day!
As our field day at Brookstone drew to a close, we began to say our goodbyes with the children, which, naturally, resulted in a boys vs. girls tug of war game to close off the day with a bang (and a victory for the girls). It was truthfully difficult to say goodbye to these children and return to our bus as they all waved goodbye from their classroom windows. Our day was a success, and we surely impacted the children in a positive manner. We understood that our volunteering with the children allowed them to learn the importance of working as a team and showing leadership; however, we were reassured of our service when an overflow of thank you notes from the children came pouring in the following weeks. In addition to the good that our day at Brookstone brought to the children, it also impacted our FCA stats as well. Word spread through the halls like wildfire about how fun, entertaining, and beneficial the trip was, and soon enough, we received more and more people requesting to be a part of the organization.
Fellowship of Christian Athletes has made a huge impact on my life, and will continue to positively affect me, as well as the other 116 members, as we progress into the school calendar, attend more events, and help more people through our talents. This organization is a remarkable way for students to express themselves, serve others in faith, and to be a part of a cause while doing something they know and love. I believe that FCA is changing the lives of its members and those that we work with little by little. Like those children at Brookstone, we members are learning about teamwork, leadership, and commitment through our services as well, just by cooperating in the organization. I will certainly continue to remain active in Fellowship of Christian Athletes for the remainder of my high school career and, hopefully, will be able to remain connected with the organization no matter where life may take me.