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Coaching the Coaches
By Janet Goreham

Standing just below Jesus at the base of the mountainside were the 12 whom He had called. And so He beckoned to Him those He wanted, and they came. He appointed these 12, designating them apostles, that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach the gospel to the nations.*

Two thousand years later, it’s because of these appointed 12 that billions of people know about Jesus Christ. Based on that model of discipleship and multiplication, FCA’s Coaches Ministry established its model of ministry and thus created the FCA Coaches Ministry Director (CMD) School.

Quick Quotes from FCA
Staff on the CMD School:

“Focusing on coaches ministry has freed us up to do deeper work in the lives of coaches. We now have 21 coaches in our area who have gone through the study. It has impacted our area in a great way.”
– David Gittings, Georgia

“It’s inspiring to see how coaches are gravitating toward this. A coach can go to a church or get involved in a Bible study with other folks, but coaches are just wired differently. And when you get these coaches together to seek God on a consistent basis, it’s really powerful.”
– Randy Chambers, Delaware

“Now I spend much more time getting to know the coaches in my schools, building them up so that they can turn around and build up their players. The fruit continues to grow. They remain connected to Jesus and become blessed. You’ll eventually see an entire community transformed because of the faithful action of a few coaches.”
– Jay Butler, Louisiana

“The CMD School was like a cool drink on a hot day for me. I had been praying for years that God would open a door of ministry into the lives of coaches. Now the Legacy studies have given us a path to run on as we minister to coaches. It’s a simple, relevant design that is easily communicated, easily duplicated and relevant to coaching.”
– Daryl Bell, Ohio

“What we see almost daily now are coaches who understand what this is all about. And we see that when one coach gets it, he wants to bring the entire team to a camp. What it has done is made our local staff get more serious about doing more local camps because the coaches want to bring their entire teams. Instead of seven kids, they want to bring 70 kids to camp.”
– Jeff Duke, Florida

“As Coaches Ministry directors, we want to play the role of a point guard and assist coaches in their quest for coaching biblically. We are committed to seeing sports totally transformed by the power of Jesus Christ, and we see coaches as the catalysts to make that happen.”
– Brian Beltramo, Arizona
It started prayerfully in the hearts of several FCA staff in Denver, specifically in that of State Director Derek Fullmer.   Rather than hiring someone to work integrally with every facet of the FCA ministry—Coaches, Campus, Camps, Community—they envisioned bringing in someone to focus solely on Colorado’s coaches ministry. After years of prayer and seeking God’s direction, they hired Rod Olson to fill the role of the state’s Coaches Ministry Director.

Since the position had been created from scratch to fill a ministry need in
Colorado, it was essentially a blank slate, and Olson was given the chalk. But even before he took the position, Olson had a vision for what to create.

From his experience as a coach—he’s held positions at every level from junior high to Division I-A—Olson knew that ministering to coaches meant building relationships. He also knew that reaching coaches meant supplying material that was relevant to them—material that would speak directly about coaching Christ’s way.

Through prayer and the prompting from friends and other coaches, Olson created a coaches study based on both the biblical principles he had learned from others and his experiences as a coach. He named the study Legacy Builders.

“One of the things that we talk about as biblical coaches is that we want to leave a legacy for God’s Kingdom,” explained Olson. “That legacy moves on through our players. And success is defined by what our players become as people, not our wins and losses.”

The 10-week study soon became three published study books, each intentionally designed to provide coaches with spiritual guidance and to encourage them toward discipling others. Thus, the method of multiplication that Jesus modeled was translated into the Colorado coaches’ ministry.

“What we’ve discovered over the last five years is that we are here to fulfill the Great Commission,” said Olson, “and we’re doing it through one-on-one and small group discipleship.”

The tremendous response to the Legacy Builder studies and the success in Colorado caught the interest of FCA President Les Steckel and FCA Vice President of Coaches Ministry Donna Noonan.

To better see what had caused the growth in coaches’ involvement, Noonan caught a flight from the FCA World Headquarters in Kansas City, Mo., to Denver to spend time learning why Colorado’s ministry was so effective. Her discoveries made her wonder whether FCA could reproduce the effect across the country. “There is a lot of other great coaches ministry going on in FCA across the country, but in Colorado I saw a flow to the process and coaches growing and getting excited about ministering to others,” reported Noonan. “So, Rod and I started talking about how we could better train our staff to build relationships with coaches. How to talk to coaches, how to meet with them, how to go where they are.

“We wanted to find FCA staff who really have a passion for coaches,” she continued. “We thought, ‘What can we do for  these people?’ That was where the idea for the Coaches Ministry Director School was born.”

In September 2006, Colorado FCA held the first-ever CMD School. Noonan, Olson and six FCA staff members from across the country who had applied for the school met for a week of training.

Olson and Noonan designed each session to teach the trainees to effectively fulfill their roles as spiritual mentors in coaches’ lives. The sessions included how to approach coaches in their environment, develop Legacy Builder discipleship groups and apply Jesus’ method of multiplication to ministry in their areas.

“The purpose of the school is to develop spiritual leaders that will speak life-changing truths into the lives of coaches,” said Olson. “This school will train the people who coach the coaches. It will train our staff who are called to minister specifically to coaches, those who seek to fulfill the Great Commission through coaches ministry.”

According to Olson and Noonan, it’s not only essential that applicants who apply feel called by God to minister solely to coaches, but also that they have a solid FCA support system backing them.

“It’s important that FCA supervisors know what’s going on, because it’s a new idea of ministry,” explained Noonan. “The supervisor is critical because he or she is going to give staff the time and support they need to get coaches ministry off the ground.”

And when everyone’s on board, Olson and the six attendees have seen how the effect of coaches ministry can spread. “God has revealed a way to unite and develop spiritual leaders,” said Olson. “Now, when they go back to their areas, they have a model that reproduces these leaders. And they’ve actually discovered that coaches are asking them how they can disciple their players and minister to other people.”

Added Noonan, “It’s all about multiplication—it’s the Jesus model. He called 12 and then poured into three. So, the whole idea is to identify the leaders and then to really pour into them. And hopefully they’re going to start their own groups.”

The vision for future FCA coaches ministry is to build the number of staff that focus exclusively on ministering to coaches so that each region of the country is represented. And as more coaches are impacted through small-group discipleship, Olson and Noonan expect the positive effect to increase exponentially.

“This could change the culture of sport,” projected Noonan. “It could transform how athletes are treated, and how they feel about themselves. If you transform coaches, then you can transform 100 kids on a football team, 13 kids on a basketball team or seven kids on a golf team. Just think of the number of kids who could have a positive versus negative experience.”

Noonan and Olson expect the CMD School to grow and continue to provide training for the “coaches of coaches.” Concluded Olson, “There are specialized positions in FCA for those whom God has called to minister specifically to coaches. Now there’s training to back it up.” 

*Adapted from Mark 3:13-15

FCA Staff: Interested in applying for FCA’s CMD School?

2007’s Important Dates:
• Application Deadline: July 31 (available soon on FCA’s TeamNet)
• Candidate Choices Announced: August 17
• 5-Day CMD School: September 24-28

Future CMD Schools will be taught by Rod Olson, Donna Noonan, or FCA staff who have previously graduated from the program.

FCA President Les Steckel on the CMD School: “Two of the most powerful words spoken are, ‘Coach said.’ When a coach speaks, athletes listen and believe. In order to train our FCA staff to minister and disciple coaches, this school is of top priority.”

*For more stories about faith and sport, visit, the official magazine of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

Copyright 2007 Sharing the Victory Magazine

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