Christian-based jamboree being held at Wingate
What started out as an idea to fellowship with high school football players and share some Christian values has manifested into an eight-team jamboree that will be held at Wingate University on Aug. 10.
All eight teams participating in the 2013 FCA Kickoff Jamboree will get in two 45-minute scrimmages — one on a college field and the other on the adjacent artificial practice turf — but what turns this into more of an event is the extras being provided.
Players will receive a meal and a T-shirt according to Brian Stephenson, one of the organizers. They will also have a "huddle talk" with student pastor Shannon Powell and be offered a Bible.
Stephenson and Powell are among a group from Lakeview Baptist Church that have been collaborating with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes to bring the jamboree to fruition.
The field will include four teams from Union County: Forest Hills, Monroe, Piedmont and Central Academy. The outside competition includes defending 2A state champion East Lincoln, Myers Park, Carson and Lewisville (S.C.).
"This is a football scrimmage and we want this to help the teams get ready for their season," Stephenson said. "But we also want to give them some life lessons that they can carry with them."
The jamboree, which starts at 8 a.m., is free to the public, although donations will be accepted.
Stephenson said Piedmont coach Ron Massey "has been very gracious and moved some things around" so the Panthers could participate in the jamboree, and didn't have any trouble tracking down CATA coach Tad Baucom.
"Tad goes to our church so it means a lot to us that his team is coming," Stephenson said. "He was one of the first ones to jump on board."
Baucom recently received the 2013 "Spirit of the Sport" award from the North Carolina High School Athletic Association for showing outstanding sportsmanship in a playoff loss to Mount Airy last season.
Stephenson is pleased with the caliber of competition at the jamboree. Monroe, which is moving up to 2A, went 11-4 and reached the 1A state semifinal round last season, while Forest Hills finished 8-4.
Among the challenges were finding "similar-sized teams" and avoiding matchups between schools that will play each other in the regular season.
Stephenson said the organizers will take input from the coaches on how to improve the jamboree for next year, and doesn't rule out the possibility of expanding the field in the future.
The jamboree planners are still looking for additional sponsors, and anyone interested can contact Stephenson at (704) 641-4680.
"We've been pleasantly surprised at the response in the community," he said. "There are so many high school football fans in Union County. This is a great opportunity for them to come see some of the best football in the state."