Fellowship of Christian Athletes allows students to come together to share their faith


Photo by Megan Monoson

First year leaders (from left) Maddie Schultze, Kyle Schroeder, Shawn Bandel, and Tyler Naughtrip read off of scripts they created at an Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) meeting last year. By working together, this group of leaders helped the new club be successful and continue into its second year at LZHS.

Megan Monoson, Magazine Editor-in-Chief

With an idea, a sponsor, and ten supporters, anyone can start a club at the high school; however, what happens when two students want to start the same club?

Two years ago, Shawn Bandel, graduate and creator of LZHS’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) club, and Tyler Naughtrip, senior member of FCA, both approached Randal Dunbar, current LZHS FAC sponsor, and asked if he would sponsor the potential club, and he said yes.

Although it took a lot of hard work and learning along the way, Bandel and Naughtrip worked together to introduce FCA to the Lake Zurich community.


Why FCA was started at LZHS, and what it is:

“I wanted to start FCA to bring together a community of people. The whole purpose of it was to create a nice environment for people to just get to know each other — and not only get to know each other but get to know, obviously, God’s word as well. So, it’s kind of a two for one,” Bandel said. “FCA is an organization that already stands by itself just outside of high school, so I didn’t introduce a new concept or anything, I just brought a club that already exists to our high school.”

FCA is an international organization that was founded over 60 years ago and combines faith and sports to impact the world for Jesus Christ, according to fca.org. Both Bandel and Naughtrip therefore approached Dunbar when looking for a sponsor because he is a PE teacher, Naughtrip’s current and Bandel’s former track coach, and a Christian. Dunbar says he agreed to sponsor this organization because it positively impacted him when he was younger too.

“I wanted to start it because I had it in high school. I was a part of it, and it was an awesome experience. I think it’s a great opportunity for kids,” Dunbar said. “There’s scholarships that kids can have, there’s camps that kids can go to, and I went to a camp in high school and I thought it was awesome.”

Although both Bandel and Naughtrip are athletes, according to Bandel, you do not have to be an athlete to be a part of FCA.

“It wasn’t necessarily [supposed to be] an all group of athletes. We liked the basis that the actual organization FCA goes off of. It applies leadership skills to sports-related things and activities, so that’s just kind of a good way to give leadership advice to people in high positions in sports but definitely encourage students who weren’t athletes to come as well,” Bandel said. “It wasn’t supposed to be some exclusive club only for team captains or something like that. We wanted everyone to be involved.”


What it does:

Once the club was approved and began last year, those leading it strived to make the experience just as positively impactful as Dunbar experienced by making the messages of the meetings relatable.

“I would probably say creating messages that the students would want to listen to [was the most challenging],” Naughtrip said. “If we make a message that kind of relates to the high school or relates to sports, then people would want to listen to it because it relates to them more.”

Every time members of FCA meet, the agendas are structured similarly, while making the message the main focus of the meeting, according to Naughtrip.

“We’ll start off with kind of an icebreaker, fun game, or activity just to kind of get everyone awake and ready and just kind of have fun. Then, we’ll give the message, and then we break up into smaller groups — typically we’ll do boys and girls so that we can talk to people that we feel more comfortable around,” Naughtrip said. “We ask questions, and kind of just dive deeper into a conversation about what we talked about in the message.”


Last year vs. this year:

FCA’s trial run at LZHS ran smoothly, according to Dunbar, and now the students can run everything independently.

“Because it was the first year, [the students] needed a little more guided help from me and the [FCA] regional director in terms of what we were doing and directions the students can take it,” Dunbar said. “This year has been awesome because there are about five leaders that have just taken over. I’m really hands-off of it, and they lead the whole thing. It’s been awesome.”

The student leaders have not only taken control by themselves this year, but they have also spread the word to the point where the club has “seen about 40 different people come” throughout its second year, according to Naughtrip.

“[Last year,] we had a good amount of people, and I think people were pretty interested in it,” Naughtrip said. “I think we’ve had deeper conversations this year than we did last year, so I feel like people are getting the messages or the idea more than they did last year.”   


When and where is it:

FCA is held on the first and third Tuesdays of every month at 7:30am in the Tonelli gym, and everyone is welcome, according to Naughtrip.

“It’s fun. I think you should give it a shot if you are considering it or want to be involved somewhere,” Naughtrip said. “If you’re a follower of God, you can come give it a shot. We have doughnuts, fun, and a good message.”