By Bill Sterling
Special to the Eastern Shore Post
Nathan Timm arrived to the Eastern Shore of Virginia just over 18 months ago committed to establishing the Fellowship of Christian Athletes in area high schools and now sees lives changing by the fruits of his labor.
Earlier this summer 23 local athletes attended a FCA Power Camp held on the Eastern Shore. An additional dozen attended a Richmond FCA Sports Camp. And six more traveled to a wrestling FCA Camp. Thus far, Timm has worked with football players and wrestlers, but he hopes to involve volleyball players soon and then include other sports.
Timm, a former runner at Florida State University, coached track and field in Maryland for 11 years and knows the life of a coach.
“The vision of the FCA is to see the world transformed by Jesus Christ through the influence of coaches and athletes,” said Timm. “We seek to accomplish our mission through the coaches. I know how it is to get home at 2 or 3 in the morning after a road game or an away meet. It is tough on the wives, the young children in the family and it is stressful for the coaches.
“Coaches have a platform to impact people. Billy Graham once said, ‘A coach will impact more people in one year than the average person will in an entire lifetime.’ I’ve had parents tell me, ‘I can’t get Johnny to do something, but his coach can.’ But coaches need support to do their job and be the best mentor they can be.”
To that end Timm has established FCA Huddles at each high school on the Eastern Shore except for Chincoteague, and he is busy making contacts there with his regular visits to the area. A resident of Chesapeake, Timm’s territory includes Virginia Beach and Chesapeake in addition to the Eastern Shore. He is the liaison for 35 schools and now has been on the FCA staff for the past five years.
Coach Alan Hall of Arcadia said the involvement of FCA at his school has been a “blessing.” Hall adds, “The FCA was able to get scholarships for 10 of our kids to attend football camp at the University of Richmond. It helps greatly for these kids to get off the Shore to see what else is out there. When our young men hear the FCA counselors talk about the word of God, they are listening. I realized early on they were teaching the same values and demeanor I want in our kids – self-worth, respect and a caring for yourself and others.”
In addition to meeting with coaches and students, Timm is also busy speaking to civic clubs, churches, and other groups. It makes for a busy schedule, but coming to the Shore is one of his favorite trips. “My family loves it here. Anytime I come to the Shore they want to tag along.” Last week his wife Lisa and their three sons, Brady, 6, Josiah, 4, and Levi, 2, sampled the treats at Corner Bakery in Onancock before the family made a trip to visit Savage Dunes near Eastville.
Timm has been working with one athlete at a local school who was abandoned by his parents and living with another family. The youth wanted to participate in a sport but had no transportation and also wasn’t eating properly. Timm helps to line up rides and gets support to see the athlete has better nutrition. He found a sponsor to send the athlete to a sports camp, where the opportunity to accept Jesus Christ was offered and accepted.
“Sometimes all we need to do is share a meal to get started,” said Timm, 38. “Then we can take small steps. No one ever quit because they were over-encouraged.”
Despite working closely with the coaches, Timm said the FCA chapters — or huddles — at the schools are “student initiated and student driven.” Timm explained, “With the Equal Access Act we can come into the schools and make a positive difference.” The Equal Access Act is a United States Federal law passed in 1984 to compel federally funded secondary schools to provide equal access to extracurricular clubs.
“Our core values are Integrity, Serving, Teamwork and Excellence,” said Timm. “We achieve this through what we call the four Cs of our ministry – Coaches, Campus, Camps and Community. We seek to raise funds to send local youth to FCA camps. We never want funds to be a deterrent to kids learning about Jesus Christ.”