By: McCarly Thomas
It started when some female athletes from Belmont University came to a handful of our Lipscomb Tuesday night FCA meetings last fall. Then, it became a conversation. A comment was made here or there;
“What if we had our FCA meetings together?”
It made sense. Two schools less than a mile down the road from each other had every reason to come to together. We also acknowledged that with Belmont having moved conferences, the intense rivalries between many sports no longer existed.
From there another comment was made;
“Well, what if we invited Vanderbilt?”
Hindsight, God’s hand was in the entire process, but this was when it became evident that he was starting something. Taylor Neuhart, a junior pitcher on the softball team, has a good friend on the football team at Vanderbilt, and I (McCarley) have a good friend who plays golf at Belmont. There were our connections.
Soon Taylor and I found ourselves in a coffee shop on 21st avenue with two or three student athletes from each school trying to figure out if this was something they were even interested in pursuing. Much to our joy, they all were. A few plans were made, a group text was created, and what was once a conversation started to become a reality. The next few months involved a lot of planning and figuring out what exactly we as a group wanted this “Nashville FCA” to look like. Very quickly, as the fall always tends to go, November 10th arrived and the hall of fame room was ready. I would like to think in this moment that the leaders from the other schools shared the same apprehension that Taylor and I shared. We had hoped, prayed, and advertised for weeks, but reality rested in the fact that we had no idea how many students would actually show up for this night.
Last Tuesday, 7:30pm rolled around, and all I can say is God is faithful. God blew past all of our expectations as car load after car load arrived bringing in more student athletes than we could have hoped for. Even the leaders for the other schools were surprised by the numbers from their own schools that continued to pour in as the night went on.
At the beginning of the night, everyone was playing the “shoe game”, a staple at Lipscomb’s FCA. The game is the best kind of mass chaos. Basically everyone takes off one shoe and throws it into the middle of the circle; from there everyone is asked to go find a shoe that is not theirs and find/return it to its rightful owner. It pretty much forces everyone to get up and mingle, meeting as many people as they can in an allotted amount of time.
Somehow in the crowd I found myself beside Taylor. We looked at each other, looked at over 100 college athletes packed into our hall of fame room, and shook our heads in quiet disbelief. It started as a conversation. God took that conversation and created a beautiful new avenue for young men and women to grow in HIS name in this city.
Matthew 18:20- “For when two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”
For the next three hours we mingled, we worshiped, and we listened to a great lesson from our Director of Spiritual Formation, Chris Klotz (Klotzy). More than anything we were encouraged. We were encouraged by the power of our God, encouraged by the number of God’s people who live in such proximity to one another, and encouraged by the realization that we are not alone. We left that night knowing that we have so many companions not only as student athletes, but also as children of God.
At the end of the night our original group of representatives from each school got together for a picture before everyone went their separate ways. Then, a conversation happened;
“What if we invite Trevecca and TSU next time?” and “Let’s meet in January so that we can have our next one ready to go in February!”
The conversation is staring again, and I cannot wait to see where it leads.
ONE CITY. ONE GOD.