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Branch reaches out to youth with message

March 17, 2000|By NICOLE MILLER / Staff Correspondent

Ward Childerston, general manager of Christian radio station WCRH 90.5, was the master of ceremonies at the Third Annual Tri-State Fellowship of Christian Athletes Victory Banquet at the Four Points Hotel in Hagerstown on Thursday.

Twenty-one businesses sponsored the event, a fundraiser aimed at helping students in 25 area schools maintain their FCA programs and help provide FCA camp scholarships.

The annual fund raiser is aimed in helping students in 25 area schools maintain their programs and to help provide FCA camp scholarships.

The FCA has identified four values to guide their priorities as an organization: integrity, serving, teamwork and excellence.

"The FCA uses the vehicle of sports to bring the positive message of Jesus Christ," said Kevin Smoot, director of the Tri-State Fellowship.

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Students are the initators of the programs within their schools and, with the help of huddle coaches to serve as mentors, meet weekly for fellowship and support. However, you don't have to be involved in sports to jpom the huddle groups, the meetings are open to everyone who wants to come.

Brothers John and Josh Andrews and their friend Stew Alcorn are the student leaders of the Urbana High School FCA huddle. They all play more than one sport and say most of the coaches and teachers are very supportive of their work with the group.

Their fellow classmates don't tease them about the stand they take and the extra work they do. "It's pretty positive and it's popular in our school," said John Andrews.

James Buchanan huddle leader, Dick Heckman, started out with only about five kids in his group. "I had always wanted to get a huddle going so I got together a group of Christian kids...now after five years we maybe have over 60 people in our group...Christian kids need that kind of fellowship,"said Heckman.

The evening's guest speaker was former University of Maryland basketball star Adrian Branch, who talked about the events that led to his acceptance of God in his life.

"In spite of having the championship ring, in spite of playing in Monaco, in spite of having an MVP trophy over Michael Jordan, my life was broken and empty," Branch said.

His career almost ended before it began when he was kicked off the DeMatha High School squad by legendary coach Morgan Wooten for having a bad attitude. He had to apologize to his teammates in order to be reinstated, but his problems had just begun.

He went on to play at Maryland, where he became the school's all-time leading scorer. But during his junior year, he was kicked off the team again after being arrested with a teammate for purchasing marijuana. He was reinstated after a drug test came back negative.

Drafted in the second round by the Chicago Bulls in 1985, Branch played for several National Basketball Association teams, including the 1987 champion Los Angeles Lakers before taking his game overseas.

While playing in Australia in 1993, his friend and former NBA player Mike Morrison told Branch that God was not impressed with his accomplishments, and that the only way God would be impressed with him is if he put his trust in His Son Jesus.

Branch gave his life to God that day, and now spends his time sharing his message.

"You are not born a winner or a loser, you are born a chooser," Branch said. "First make your choice, then let your choice make you."

Dave Carruthers, the Urbana High School football coach, was recognized for his work with the group and was presented a watch.

He is also having a Coaches Excellence Award, which is to be presented each year hereafter to a huddle leader for giving of his or her time, talent, and gifts. The award will be given in his honor.

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