A Jesus-focused group for middle school and high school athletes has been making a difference on the Emerald Coast for more than five years.

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) began as a national organization in 1954 and was formed on the Emerald Coast in 2013. Since then, the group says it’s grown from 12 “huddles” to 47 and has 40 ambassador student boards overseeing over 3,000 students.

“We started with no representation from FCA and no budget,” a press release indicated. “Five years later, Emerald Coast FCA has a board of directors in both Okaloosa and Walton counties. We continue to grow support for the vision and mission statement of FCA, as well as continually praise God for the past five years.”

The Emerald Coast group has a local presence at 17 middle schools, 16 high schools and one college.

FCA says its mission is to “lead every coach and athlete into a growing relationship with Christ.

“FCA has been challenging coaches and athletes on the professional, college, high school, junior high and youth levels to use the powerful platform of sport to reach every coach and every athlete with the transforming power of Jesus Christ,” the group says.

FCA’s focus is on coaches, campuses, community and camps. The group currently has 152 certified community volunteers who partner with local churches, businesses, parents and volunteers to invest in coaches and athletes participating in club, recreational and youth sports teams.

They also partner with several charitable events including beach cleanup days, Crop Drop, shoe box drives, Christmas shopping for families in need, banquets and breakfasts, Night of Integrity, See You at the Pole, Fields of Faith, National Day of Prayer and the Taylor Haugen Foundation Community Outreach.

“We strive to share who we are for the Kingdom of God with our FCA values,” the group says. “Our relationships will demonstrate steadfast commitment to Jesus Christ and his word through integrity, serving, teamwork and excellence.”

To learn more about joining the Emerald Coast FCA, email director Michelle Carmical at mcarmical@fca.org.