In December 2010 Eric and Maria Grogan were raising their five children in Louisville when the couple received the devastating news that Eric was had been laid off from his job in medical equipment sales. As the primary breadwinner of the family, Eric immediately began seeking reemployment within the medical industry.
“Eric went through several interviews that felt like a sure win,” explained Maria. “He and a prospective employer would get through the job interview and negotiation process. First dates of employment would be set, and then every single time something would happen and the door would slam shut.” The couple leaned into their faith throughout the challenging time. “We never missed a meal or a mortgage. We were provided for. It came to feel like God was preparing us for something.” That something was the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
The Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) mission is to see the world impacted and transformed by Jesus Christ through the influence of coaches and athletes. One of Eric’s friends in the Louisville area was seeking a volunteer character coach to serve as a chaplain for a cross country team. He approached Eric, an avid runner, who agreed to serve in the role. The fit was a natural one combining two loves: running and his Christian faith. Eric soon learned there was no one in western Kentucky leading FCA. He was invited to move to Paducah and serve as the Area Director for West Kentucky FCA.
“Had this door opened when I first found myself unemployed, I would not likely have shown interest in the position,” says Eric. “Before I could take the position as a full-time job, we were required to fundraise an initial $50,000 to start the west Kentucky group. I would have been hesitant in my ability to achieve that goal.”
Once again, they leaned on their faith, and had the funding raised in less than six months.
Coaches are the heart of FCA. The late Billy Graham said, “A coach will impact more people in a year than the average person does in a lifetime.” FCA seeks to recruit Christians who just happen to coach (as opposed to Coaches who happen to be Christian).
These coaches inspire students to be leaders. Leaders inspire campuses. Campuses inspire communities.
“The great thing about FCA is that participation is not limited to just athletes,” Maria explained. There are FCA Campus Huddles in most schools within McCracken County and the City of Paducah. Each huddle is led by a volunteer sponsor who is background checked and trained on the FCA’s vision, mission and values. These sponsors provide oversight through encouragement, mentoring and direction, but the leadership comes from the students, themselves. Each huddle is autonomous and work to meet the needs of their independent schools. Some huddles meet weekly; others monthly. Some huddles use their meetings as times of worship or to listen to guest speakers while others use the time to directly serve their teams or communities.
Stacy Thomas serves as the sponsor of the McCracken County High School’s FCA.
“As the sponsor of the McCracken County High School FCA Campus Huddle, our aim is to inspire, encourage, equip and empower students to live out their faith in God courageously and to bring hope in Him to all they come in contact with,” explained Stacy.
“Through speakers & coaches inside and outside of the school, through songs of worship, testimonies, outreach to the MCHS athletic teams and youth events for the whole community, our students are committed to making Jesus Christ known throughout their campus and beyond. McCracken FCA meets every Friday in the C-Plant Auditorium to provide a safe place for ALL students to have a support system, to learn and grow in our faith and to be strengthened by being around their peers.”
Paducah Tilghman High School graduate Bryson Brooks credits FCA for success in making the transition from high school to college athletics.
“The Grogan Family, through FCA, set a constant example for me of what it means to pursue Christ. My involvement with FCA helped me find my purpose. I wouldn’t be playing college football for Georgetown College if it had not been for FCA.”
In addition to campus activities, FCA also offers camp opportunities to interested participants. FCA Camps are annual events that bring coaches and students together from multiple campus huddles. The West Kentucky FCA held two camps this summer: Power Camp and FCA Leadership Camp.
Power Camp was held June 11-13 at McCracken County High School. There were 315 Campers, 65 high school huddle leaders and 40 college and adult volunteers. Campers received coaching instruction in the morning in two sports of their choice and played against other huddles in the afternoon in various competitions. Interspersed between these things were two Bible study huddles led by the high school huddle leaders and a daily lunch-time testimony shared by a collegiate athlete. FCA Leadership Camp was held July 5-8 with 40 campers, 2 huddle leaders and five adult volunteers in attendance. This four-day retreat provided at atmosphere for spiritual and physical growth, challenge, sweat and grit.
There is no doubt West Kentucky FCA, led by Eric Grogan is fulfilling its mission. Between campus huddles, team huddles and camp opportunities FCA reaches over 1,000 students per week!
“I’m so humbled to be a leader of this organization,” said Eric. “I never foresaw we would have this sort of reach. I’m just so honored and thankful to be at the helm.”
West Kentucky FCA is a 501©3 non-profit organization. It relies on donations made by individuals, businesses, and churches to fulfill its mission. FCA will host its annual Gamechanger Banquet on Saturday, November 10th at Lone Oak First Baptist Church with Darryl Strawberry as this year’s featured speaker. Thursday, November 22nd, Downtown Paducah Edwards Jones and West Kentucky FCA will host its annual Turkey Trot 5K and 10K. To learn more about West Kentucky FCA, to make a donation or to obtain additional information about these events, please visit http://westkyfca.org/.