A Christian sports organization chose only 54 Christian students out of the 6,000 nominated nationwide to be honored as part of the first-team All American Christian Athletes for maintaining a high level of Christian character during athletic competition. Among the award and scholarship winners, many were involved in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Athletes of Good News, in its seventh year, is an organization that recognizes and promotes fellowship among Christian high-school athletes. Awards offered include: 1st Team all-Americans, 2nd Team all-Americans, 1st Team Honorable Mention all-Americans, 2nd Team Honorable Mention all-Americans. Two students, one male and one female, are awarded scholarships and one student is named as Overcomer of the Year.
Many of the winners were involved in multiple sports in their high school but also had time to volunteer for their local churches.
Kristen Akin, Spring Hill High School in Longview, Texas, was the female winner of the scholarship to be used at the college or university of her choice. An athlete in volleyball, basketball, and softball, Akin is also leader of her schools FCA huddle, a class officer for her school, and a member of the National Honor Society. Very active in her church youth group, Akin has worked with needy children in Montana while on a mission trip but even though she tended to their many needs, she said the most important resource [people] need is Jesus Christ.
The male winner of the scholarship, Jeff Mews, was also a leader in his FCA huddle at Coconino High School in Flagstaff, Arizona. He participated on the Football and Track and Field team for his school and is a member of the National Honor Society, a mentor for younger students, and has done inner-city mission work. He sees the motive of life lies in living for Jesus.
I imagine myself teaching others that life is more important than the people and events that make up this world, that in whatever we do, we should do it for Jesus Christ who saved us from our sins, he said.
Even though many who placed in the 1st Team all-American list excelled in their sports, their athletic accomplishment is not what they focus on.
For Katie Barrera, a student from Benson High School in Arizona who was selected as 1st Team All American Christian Athlete is someone who could boast about her titles. In 2002, Barrera took first place in the 2A state competition in shot put and third place in discus. Last year, Barrera was the state's champion in both events and is favored to take both titles again this year.
She credits her faith above all else.
"I try to make my faith my foundation," said Barrera, a co-captain of her high schools FCA huddle. "I've been blessed with the ability to accomplish all that I have in my high school career. I believe I have to keep my faith up. It's the most important part of my life."
The 2003-2004 All American Christian Athlete applications were submitted before December 1, 2003. Starting September 1, 2004, nominations for the 2004-2005 term will be accepted.