The Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) of North Central Florida will host its third annual Kickoff Classic on Aug. 3.
The event will be at Westside Baptist Church, 10000 W Newberry Rd, with a dinner provided by Sonny’s BBQ.
“This is an encouragement to start the year off, so I’m excited,” Noah Wilbanks, director of North Central Florida FCA, said in a phone interview. “I’m excited to see how the Lord will use this event to ignite the hearts and souls of young men and young women.”
The event will feature two guest speakers: former University of Florida head football coach Steve Spurrier and former Tampa Bay Buccaneers team chaplain R.V. Brown, a member of the FCA Hall of Champions. Spurrier will talk about leadership and Brown will provide a faith message, according to Wilbanks.
The Kickoff Classic had about 200 attendees in its first year and shot up to 550 last year. This year, Wilbanks said he is expecting about 750 participants from teams representing a variety of sports across 13 counties. Throughout the school year, FCA of North Central Florida serves over 3,000 students bi-weekly, according to the organization’s website.
Wilbanks said the kickoff will be a team builder for those who come, providing a context for them to spend time together without the pressure of a competitive environment.
“They can look across the room and see another team and they can understand that there’s a bigger picture than trying to beat each other up on Friday night. At the end of the day, we’re still human beings,” Wilbanks said.
FCA began in 1954 in response to athlete endorsements of products like cigarettes. According to Wilbanks, FCA’s founders thought if athletes could endorse products, they should also be able to endorse their faith. Now the nationwide network of clubs acts as a safe space for Christian student-athletes to share their faith.
Students will go back to their schools this year and lead Bible studies in weight rooms, classrooms and gyms as an equal-access club.