An article I wrote for Pro Player Insiders, circa 2015.
Making it to the NFL takes a lot of hard work and dedication. Many players are gifted with great abilities and a great physique; many players not only believe in their own abilities, they also look to a higher power. Professional athletes alike are very superstitious. Not only with strong beliefs in god, but superstitions within themselves. Some athletes won’t wear red on game day, others have to have a certain meal for pre-game, and others have to pray before every game. Darrell Stuckey and Vincent Brown of the San Diego Chargers are a few of the very spiritual players in the NFL. Hosting their annual Fellowship of Christian Athletes Youth Football Camp in Camino Del Sur Dan Diego, these two players looked to not only help inspire young athletes through sports, but to help them understand and find themselves with god. Helping to bring faith to people in need is a fulfilling achievement these players love to do. The two stars are not alone in their quest to bring faith to young athletes, they have gathered fellow teammate Nick Novak along with other numerous friends and family to help teach kids about the power of god.
The two NFL stars are part of the FCA, the FCA stands for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. This group holds camps throughout America hoping to inspire and help spread the word of the lord through sports. They host leadership camps which are for young athletes to learn the basics and fundamentals of sports with a strong emphasis on Christian growth. The motto for the camps are “all in.” The motto stands for athletes who are not consumed by money or fame, but by the glory of god. Joining into the “all in” theme means in mind, body and spirit, there are no limits what a young athlete can accomplish. Pro Player Insider’s own Theresa Villano was able to catch up with Darrell and Vincent’s teammate Nick Novak on the camp. “Hard work, persistence, trying to instill these qualities in these kids is our goal. I don’t know if their ambition is to get to the NFL, but at this age, mine was how am I going to get to college, how am I going to get good grades to get into college. I wanted to make sure there were priorities. That’s what were here to do, help show priorities and what faith can do.” Nick also went on to say that at the Chargers training camps, faith is still a huge part of their everyday routines. “We have bible studies, Darrell usually leads them. There’s a few other guys on the team who will hold them as well but Darrell is huge on them,” Nick went on to say. There were not just football players or coaches at the camp, there were also religious based figures and even an Olympic speed skater. Nancy Swider-Peltz, an American speed skater was at the camp as an intern with the West Cavalry Chapel to help teach young athletes as well. “Once you get to a point in your life and your faith is so strong, success is great and fun to appreciate, but these guys, Vincent and Darrell, I don’t see them as athletes first. I see these guys as wow, they’re strong in their faith. How cool is that,” Nancy stated. Football was a large part of the camp, but faith was an even bigger part.
Everyone at the camp knew how large faith was to these two players hosting the camp and wanted to be a part of it in anyway. Every day the players would hold a prayer with all of the campers to help appreciate what it meant to be where they are today. Darrell and Vincent appreciate everything they have and attribute all their success to god. Everyone knows hard work, determination and dedication and more is what it takes to become a professional athlete, but these players also believe that faith has a large part to do with that as well. These players along with numerous athletes alike, believe faith should be a large part of everyone’s everyday life. Helping bring faith to young kids was very fulfilling stated numerous volunteers at the camp. It was a great experience to be a part of and to see the looks on camper’s faces when they allowed the lord to wash over them was outstanding. The FCA hosts numerous camps and is very easy to sign up for. Visit www.fca.org to learn more today.
PPI’s Theresa Villano was able to catch up with a few volunteers at the camp such as Nick Novak and his stepson Trevor, Colin….. and USA Olympic speed skater Nancy Swider-Peltz.
Nick Novak, kicker for the San Diego Chargers and his stepson Trevor Buckowitz, were at the camp helping to share the faith and their values with other camp members.
Theresa: Who is Nick Novak in your life?
Trevor: Soon to be stepdad and a good friend.
Theresa: What does god mean to you? How has Nick helped with your role with god?
Trevor: He always encouraged me to go to church and focus on god.
Theresa: If you sit and think about one word that describes Nick, what would it be?
Trevor: Loyalty, his car is very clean, you can’t have dirty hands in the car. It teaches you to treat your stuff well and don’t just trash your stuff. Have pride in what you have.
Theresa: How old are you and what school do you go to?
Trevor: 13 and Lewis Middle School.
Theresa: I saw you at Larry English’s camp, your supporting so many of your teammates, why are you here and what does it mean? What makes this camp different?
Nick: Hard work, persistence, trying to instill these qualities in these kids. I don’t know if their ambition is to get to the NFL but at this age, but mine was how am I going to get to college, how am I going to get good grades to get into college. I just wanted to make sure there were priorities.
Theresa: What role has Jesus and our heavenly father played in your football career?
Nick: It’s given me ground, it’s given me peace. No matter how well I do on the field or if I have a bad game, but knowing that I can do it for the glory of god can always help.
Theresa: Before a kick or after a kick do you say a prayer, or even before a game?
Nick: I always pray before games, I call my parents in the morning before a game and we pray on the phone usually on the way to the stadium. After a kick I always say thank you god whether I make it or miss it. I don’t point to the sky or anything but I acknowledge him in my helmet just a quick thank you.
Theresa: What role does god play in your training camp experience?
Nick: We have bible studies, Darrell Stucky usually leads them. There’s a few other guys on the team who will hold bible studies
Southern California fellowship of Christian athletes leader Colin Sinclair was also at the camp motivating young athletes through prayer and the power of Christ.
Theresa: What are you doing here and what roles to Darrell and Vincent play?
Colin: Were here doing a football clinic to teach these kids, 11-18 years old, not just the game of football but about the game of life. We use a strong influence of athletics to help share the gospel of Jesus Christ. Were out here today playing football and Darrell and Vincent are 2 guys that love god and love football. They’ve been given a gift to play football and their out here today teaching these kids how to play with also the passion of god.
Theresa: What makes this camp specifically different? Do you pray, do you talk about god? What are some specific examples?
Colin: We want every kid that comes here to experience the love of Christ, most haven’t so they came here and we opened in prayer. Darrell and Vincent each shared their testimony and how god is most important in their life and how they’ve been given a gift to play football and how god has given them a gift to do just that. They play football but they live for god.
Theresa: You mentioned the UCLA event and how that’s your bread and butter and how so many athletes come out of there, tell me a little about that event.
Colin: FCA started with a sports camp in 1956 and our founder had a vision that if athletes could endorse a product like Coke or Nike, why couldn’t they endorse a way of life like Christianity. So UCLA we had 710 athletes come up for a week of inspiration and perspiration. They got 2 bible studies a day and 2 practices a day. Vincent came up for the week, he came and shared his testimony in front of the whole group. It’s another way to get a kid out of their environment and up to one that’s filled with Jesus and all the other sports we do up there.
Theresa: Has there been a moment at the UCLA camp or here where you were like WOW, this is exactly why I do what I do?
Colin: Yes! The night that Vincent Brown shared his story, just after he spoke, we gave an invitation for kids to receive Jesus or rededicate their lives and I was able to lead the charge of those that made a decision. There were 150 kids that made a first time decision and over 400 that made a commitment to re-dedicate their lives. That moment when I’m looking at a sea of 600 kids with a smile on their face of just freedom from all the burdens they have on their life to just freedom in Jesus, that’s why I do what I do and a moment I’ll never forget.
Theresa: In one sentence can you describe Darrell Stucky and in one sentence Vincent Brown?
Colin: Darrell is a man of incredible passion, and an incredible man of god. He knows his purpose and is a motivator and a leader. Vincent is a lead by example and very gifted in the way he is able to communicate who god is and how important god is in his life.
Theresa: What is the catch phrase or the slogan for the Fellowship Camp for Christian Athletes? What is it?
Colin: All in. All in is for FCA and to just be all in for all that you do. Whatever you do whether it be sports or with the lord, so today were teaching the kids to be all in on and off the field.
Nancy Swider-Peltz, USA Olympic skier, was at the camp sharing her experiences from the Olympics with campers and hoping to inspire future athletes.
Theresa: You’re here at the FCA, tell me why you are here and how god has played a role in your career.
Nancy: Im a 2010 Olympic speed skater, I grew up in the Chicago, Wheaten area. I’m here with FCA and doing an internship with West Cavalry Chapel in Carlsbad. Colin Sinclaire who is the FCA regional director, actually played football in college. My dad is a football coach there and my uncle is the coach there as well. Colin goes to this church, he grabbed me to come out and do FCA stuff. This internship is all about ministry and how this church pours into ministries in the local area. I’m here to learn how that network is played out and how it is done. Also to be taught about sports ministry as well. I grew up in an athletic family, my mom was a 4 time Olympian, in speed skating as well. Success has always been first and something I reached for, I had struggle after struggle and injury after injury. It was the lord’s way of tearing me down and showing me that he controlled my life and even though he gives us talents and things were good at, it’s because there is a purpose behind it all. He’s given us these gifts to share, the best way we can appreciate him is just thank him.
Theresa: You’re surrounded by 3 chargers players. You’re an athlete yourself, what does it mean to be here inspiring these kids?
Nancy: Once you get to a point in your life and your faith is so strong, success is great and fun to appreciate, but these guys, Vincent and Darrell, I don’t see them as athletes first. I see these guys as wow, they’re strong in their faith. How cool is that, how cool is it that they’re here sharing their faith with all these little kids.