Food, Fun, and Faith

FCA students athletes take fellowship to the field


Rhyen Standridge

Alex Vogel and Dillon Davis eat with the other FCA members, enjoying their down time with friends after practice.

Essy Ingram, Staff Reporter

The intensive agenda of a student-athlete consists of drills, drills, and more drills. Sitting through hours of consecutive lectures, commuting down to the field for a session of sweat and recurring soreness; they are consistently being pushed to their mental and physical limits. Fortunately, there is a place for them to stop, recharge, and become more intentional in their sport. FCA, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, gives an opportunity for students to rethink the way they play. Coach Malach Radigan helps to lead FCA every other Tuesday night with Mrs. Kathy Maupin and Coach Brian Cissell.

“Our three main focuses are food, fellowship, and fun. So you know we have food there for the kids, we hang out in fellowship and have fun with certain games or icebreakers,” Coach Radigan said.

Spending downtime with friends and athletes is a perfect way to unwind after practice, but FCA’s relaxed environment also helps promote conversation just as well as fun.

“We also just like dive into a meeting … and the meeting is basically super simple. It’s like how does your relationship with God relate to your relationship with your sport?” Coach Radigan explained.

In his years of teaching, Coach Radigan has built a relationship with the students he mentors. Within a brief walk down the hall, he’s swarmed by students offering crisp high-fives and enthusiastic hellos. One of his students, Senior Sydney Aleksick, has been attending FCA for over a year now while also performing with the Varsity Sensations and studio dance classes. She appreciates the aspect of fellowship in particular:

“[FCA] is a place to be with your other friends and athletes… you’re able to find God in your game and bring it with you,” Aleksick said.

Since Aleksick first started attending, she was surprised by the openness of the conversations. 

  “At first, I was like, I don’t know why I’m here. I don’t know what I’m doing. But then, when I was hearing people be so vulnerable, it made me want to be vulnerable,” Aleksick said. 

Being open to personal growth is when vulnerability is at its peak. At an FCA meeting, there are many opportunities for growth. For Aleksick, it included learning how to pray:

 “I’m able to listen to other people. I’m like, ‘Oh, that’s how you do it. Oh, it’s just conversation,’” Aleksick explained.

FCA’s safe environment is a perfect setting to share different views. It’s important to discuss how they would respond in real-life scenarios, especially during a time of students’ lives where decisions are so impactful among peers. 

“It’s hard being a high schooler because everyone is faced with being cool and being lame,” Aleksick remarked.

Many high schoolers can agree that they feel a pressure to identify with what is deemed acceptable, even when what’s accepted isn’t what they believe in. It is only when these discussions are initiated that students can begin to break down the hesitancy of confidence in core values.

Having these conversations create a community at FCA and a relationship with God. This inspires athletes like Aleksick to bring their faith into their sport.

“Right now, at the beginning of our season, we have studio after practice, so we’ll have 2:30 to 5:00 and then we’ll have 5:30 to 9:30,” Aleksick explained.

Time-consuming commitments can easily become a chore with the wrong mindset. It’s easy to get distracted with the monotony of activities and forget there is a larger purpose to the sport or activity itself. This is common among teammates, especially midseason when tunnel vision kicks in and it becomes that much more vital to slow down and refocus.

 For Alex Vogel’s junior year of high school, he’s decided to involve himself in football, wrestling, track, and tennis. It’s a wonder how he is able to be so involved as an athlete, but anyone can see that Vogel brings his faith to the field, and that makes all the difference.

“Every down, every yard, every tennis hit, I just think of God… I’m doing this for Him and not for myself,” Vogel said.

Coach Radigan is not unlike Vogel when it comes to FCA being a catalyst to his walk with God, especially in the earlier years of his life.

“When I was in high school, I was a punk kid who was doing drugs and partying, drinking, doing all that stuff. And because of FCA, I changed my life; it changed my life; I’ve developed a relationship with Jesus, and then that ultimately changed everything about my life. And so I coach differently, I live differently. I am different because of it,” Coach Radigan said.

Incorporating faith into his life elevates the way he connects with students.

“I teach from a position of like I wanna show these kids love Christ, I want to serve them with servant leadership, I want to be a support system, I want to be a positive light,” Coach Radigan said.

 Aleksick brings the same positive light to her dance competitions, where she often leads a prayer before their performance. 

“When I’m [leading prayer], I know that I’m talking from my heart. And I know it’s coming from a good place because God is with me,” Aleksick said. 

There is an obvious trend among FCA athletes; positivity always seems to sprout in their wake. However, life manages to throw curveballs their way, sometimes in the form of tragedy. In the past year, Aleksick’s father passed. 

“It was hard to come back to my faith because I felt like God kind of betrayed me, but I knew He needed my dad. So I was like, I’m just gonna go and we’re gonna not worry about it. And it was fine … I cried at my church service. It was so amazing. Just coming back to my faith. And the people that are [at FCA] are so genuine, and it’s like, brought me back to my roots so I’m able to be with the people that I truly love and they truly love me,” Aleksick explained. 

The strength and unity that the FCA community provides is unmatched, according to Vogel. Its support system is grounded in faith and has something unique to offer athletes from all walks of life. FCA has taught Vogel intentionality not only in his sport but in all other aspects of his life.

Pullquote Photo

“Every down, every yard, every hit, I just think of God… I’m doing this for Him and not myself.””

— Alex Vogel

“The biggest surprise is just with all the love that everyone gives you,” Vogel said.

For more information about dates and locations, see Howell Central FCA’s Twitter @spartans_fca or ask Mr. Cissell in room 149.