It's never too late to find your faith.
For the Fellowship of Christian Athletes at Greenbrier High School, it's never too early.
Greenbrier's FCA holds monthly prayer breakfasts at the Cracker Barrel restaurant, where the Wolfpack convenes at 6 a.m.
''We started with around 30 or so members, and this year when we met for the first time we had 74,'' said Russell Schneider, Greenbrier's FCA sponsor. ''We had over a hundred at our last prayer breakfast. We are growing tremendously. I think it's just the kids are good at getting the word out.''
Members of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes at Greenbrier High School participated in the See You at the Pole prayer event Wednesday before classes.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Jason Story says he was led to the FCA to set an example for others at Greenbrier.
''My teammates told me I needed to come out here and help support it because people look up to us as athletes,'' the junior football player said.
Greenbrier junior Brent Edwards joined the FCA this year. The football player was surprised to see so many students committed to their beliefs.
''I didn't expect it to be as big as it is,'' Edwards said. ''It's great that it has grown because having all of these people worshipping the Lord is a great thing.''
The club's most recent prayer breakfast was held Sept. 14, the first Friday after the terrorist attacks.
''We have to come together to rise above this, the worst thing that's happened in our history. We can get through it as a nation under God,'' said Cam Griffin, who plays quarterback for the Pack and is part of the FCA.
On Wednesday at Greenbrier High, Griffin and other FCA members helped boost participation in the ''See You at the Pole'' event,which promotes nationwide annual gatherings around school flagpoles for prayer and fellowship before class.
''When we can get 350 people to come together like this, what more can you say?'' said Curtis Henchel, an FCA member and football player. ''Especially with what happened last week, the more we turn to God and come together as a country, the more that can help us.''
Many Pack football players attended the Pole devotional, where the warriors donned the armor of Christ instead of helmets and shoulder pads.
Scott Wandless likes to gird himself with both on the gridiron. ''I keep the Lord with me when I play football,'' the sophomore linebacker said. ''If it's a key situation, I'm on the field praying.''
As songs of praise greeted the rising sun Wednesday, Greenbrier football coach and Athletic Director Mickey Derrick looked on with satisfaction.
''There were a lot of athletes out there. It was a good sight,'' Derrick said. ''Those things are a lot more important than football or any other sport. Football will go on for a couple of years for these kids. What goes on in your life after football is what's important.''
See You at the Pole brought many athletes together, as cross country runners, volleyball players and softballteams joined hands in prayer.
Natalie Pippin, an FCA member and softball player, was in the crowd circling the flagpole. She said she finds that faith is a force in both life and athletics.
''When you're out on the field and remember who's giving you those abilities, it makes you happy and makes you play that much harder,'' she said. ''It's very important to keep God at the center of your life, especially when you're going through your teen-age years and there's a lot of temptation. You've got to have something to keep you grounded.''
Schneider, who coaches football and wrestling at Greenbrier, says the school's Fellowship of Christian Athletes welcomes all students. As the FCA numbers increase, he said he hopes the club can make an impact at the Brierpatch and beyond.
''When television did the series on 'Columbia County's High Life,' it made our county look bad,'' Schieder said of the WRDW Channel 12 expose on local high school drug and alcohol use. ''Our theme this year is Columbia County High Life. It's a high on Christ, not on anything else.''
''My teammates told me I needed to come out here and help support it because people look up to us as athletes.''
Junior football player Jason Story
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