Faith & football

Super Bowl champ Stefen Wisniewski will share his story of being a Christian athlete during FCA breakfast April 14

By Samantha Bambino

The Times

Scoring big: At the heart of FCA is a mission to provide resources for those with a passion for faith and sports. In 10 high schools throughout Lower and Central Bucks, student-run groups meet regularly to discuss and strengthen their faith. Source: Fellowship of Christian Athletes

NFL players have a lot of pressure on their padded shoulders. While most of it has to do with the game itself, a portion comes from the temptations that come along with achieving national recognition … and, of course, the question of what to do with that massive paycheck. For Philadelphia Eagles lineman Stefen Wisniewski, his Christian faith helps him stay grounded and true to himself in the sometimes controversial realm of football.

On April 14 at Cairn University in Langhorne, the Super Bowl champ will share his story of balancing his two worlds during the Fellowship of Christian Athletes annual breakfast, which begins at 8 a.m. Wisniewski, a Penn State standout, started 14 games for the 2017 season, and his run and pass blocking helped the Eagles finish with the third most prolific offense in the NFL.

According to Scott Leuz, area director for Lower and Central Bucks County FCA, the organization fortunately booked Wisniewski for the event prior to the post-Super Bowl pandemonium that’s just beginning to calm down. Though Wisniewski, a longtime supporter of the FCA, would have plenty of content either way for a keynote speech, his team’s big win will make it all the more sweeter.

“Our society has a fascination with the world of sports,” Leuz said. “FCA believes that Christian coaches and athletes have a unique platform and can take advantage of the attention they receive. At events like this upcoming breakfast, FCA gives Christian professional athletes like Stefen Wisniewski opportunities to use their influence and make an impact for Jesus Christ in the lives of student athletes and families.”

At the heart of FCA is a mission to provide resources for those with two passions — faith and sports. Headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri, FCA began in 1954 and is now an international organization that reaches approximately 2 million people annually on the professional, college, high school, junior high and youth levels.

Lower and Central Bucks FCA encompasses 10 high schools and one college in the area. Leuz explained the organization’s in-school programming runs very much like any club, such as chess. On a regular basis, the student-run groups meet after school to discuss and strengthen their faith.

While some FCA clubs are team-specific, others are open to all students of any religion at the school. Students are able to learn about other backgrounds and beliefs, while gaining insight into how their peers tie their faith into athletics by practicing values such as integrity and teamwork. In addition to after-school clubs, a key component of the FCA is its summer camp program, which is divided into two age groups. Elementary students can participate in a day camp, while middle and high schoolers have the option of an overnight camp at Kutztown University. According to Leuz, the Kutztown experience has something for virtually every young athlete — football, volleyball, baseball, track, tennis and golf, just to name a few.

Unfortunately, many families cannot afford the cost. Proceeds from the breakfast will be used toward scholarships, giving local students an opportunity they wouldn’t have had otherwise to attend the camp. The funds raised will also provide resources for coaches and athletes to help them successfully run the in-school clubs.

“We use these events to highlight the ministry of FCA locally, so that people can see what the ministry looks like in our area and have an opportunity to get involved by serving and supporting it financially,” Leuz said.

At the breakfast event, attendees will not only learn about the FCA’s work and enjoy a keynote speech from Wisniewski, but also hear from two student athletes who have been impacted by the organization. Joining the Eagles star at the podium will be local standouts Kerry Phillips, an all-conference soccer goalkeeper for Pennsbury, and Oliver Jervis, an FCS football commit from Pennridge. Afterward, Wisniewski will sign autographs and take pictures with guests. A silent auction and trivia contest will also take place. ••

If you go…

The fifth annual Fellowship of Christian Athletes fundraising breakfast will take place Saturday, April 14, at 8 a.m. at Cairn University, 200 Manor Ave. in Langhorne. Cost is $10 per person and registration by April 7 may be made at phillyfca.org/central-lower-bucks. For more information on the FCA, visit fca.org, its Facebook page at facebook.com/fcafans or its Twitter feed @fcanews.

Samantha Bambino can be reached at sbambino@newspapermediagroup.com