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Fellowship of Christian Athletes keeps hockey campers on fire

July 10, 2010|By LUCIA TAYO
  • D.J. Cicotte, of Annapolis, uses a wrist shot to get the puck past goalie Alex Benda, of Hagerstown, Saturday during hockey camp at the Hagerstown Ice & Sports Complex.
By Kevin G. Gilbert, Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN -- The Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) found a way to keep hockey camp participants on fire while they played on ice this week at the Hagerstown Ice & Sports Complex.

"Our mission is to share Jesus Christ with coaches and athletes," said Rick Randazzo, FCA national director.

On Saturday, the last day of the FCA hockey camp, the 57 participants got to enjoy a scrimmage and say goodbye to their new friends.

Randazzo said the organization implements its mission by using the 4 C's strategy, which is reaching coaches, college campuses, communities and camps.

"This camp is one of the C's -- how we're reaching players and coaches through the camp ministry," he said.

Randazzo said during the camp, participants, who ranged in age from 8 to 17, had a chance to enjoy lessons on the ice.

"We started working with them on the ice for three hours a day," Randazzo said. "Working on their skill development, working on their skating, shooting and hockey skills."

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When the participants weren't on the ice, Randazzo said they were in sessions that taught them not only about life skills such as integrity, serving others and teamwork, but also about the importance of having Jesus Christ in their lives.

Jay Clark, a 22-year-old senior at the U.S. Military Academy, had a chance to coach the goalies and get in some study time.

"I have enjoyed getting to impact the kids more than I expected to. I didn't expect them to look up to us as much as they did," Clark said. "I was amazed at how receptive they were to the things we had to say."

Gary Steffes, a 23-year-old Miami (Ohio) University graduate, said he enjoyed being able to coach and counsel the participants.

"It was unbelievable to be a part of," Steffes said. "It was so much to be able to be connect with the kids."

Randazzo said there were two groups of campers -- day campers, who primarily were from the Hagerstown area, and overnight campers, who came from different parts of the country.

He said because the overnight campers had more time with their counselors for fellowship and prayer, they plan to make next year's camp two weeks long.

This year, the camp only had boys register, but Randazzo said the camp is open to girls as well.

Nevertheless, Clark saw the all-boy camp as a bonus.

"I think there's something special about having it all boys, in the sense that it allows you to discuss things and really work with them in a way that's specific to their gender," Clark said.

Ryan Overacker, a 9-year old camper, enjoyed the teachings about God and said he met a lot of friends. He said he was looking forward to being a better hockey player after he leaves.

Even thought the participants were receptive to the teachings, the counselors and coaches seemed to gain a lot from the camp experience.

"We feel more blessed by doing this than the campers we're helping," Clark said. "It's been something special for us to work with them."

Steffes said he would use the character growth that he learned from the camp as he ventures out to start a professional hockey career.

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