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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

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Fellowship of Christian Athletes comes to Saint Joseph’s

New campus ministry group for athletes

Junior Gabby Southworth grew up with two strong forces in her life: Lacrosse and Catholicism. She attended an all-girls Catholic high school and played lacrosse up until her senior year, when she decided to quit.

“The girls were so mean and clique-y and exclusive, and that’s not how it should be at all,” Southworth said. “I ended up quitting senior year because it wasn’t fun, and I didn’t want to surround myself with people like that.”

Southworth now plays club lacrosse at Saint Joseph’s University, and has found a renewed passion for both the sport and her faith. In the spring, Southworth began talking to Beth Hagovsky, Ed.D., director of Student Leadership and Activities about starting a chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, also known as FCA, at St. Joe’s.

Southworth discovered the FCA the summer after her freshman year, during which she struggled with anxiety and depression.

“A couple of days into the fall semester freshman year, I was overcome with severe anxiety and depression,” Southworth said. “It was so bad, I couldn’t function, and I was too sick to stay. I ended up withdrawing for the fall semester, and I returned home and got better there. But because I hit such a low point, that was when I found my faith… I started doing some research on Campus Ministry, and I stumbled on FCA… It’s basically a sports ministry organization. I didn’t even know that existed.”

Southworth attended an FCA lacrosse camp as a coach and Bible study leader. According to Southworth, she felt it was her calling to start an FCA group at St. Joe’s. When she mentioned it to others, she received an outpouring of support, and decided to make the group a reality.

Southworth knows there are already many campus ministry groups at St. Joe’s—in fact, she regularly attends Down to Pray—but feels that the FCA can reach another group of students.

“I think FCA would reach this group of people that’s not being reached, particularly the athletes, because athletes on college campuses are a really special breed,” Southworth said. “With sports, you’re often defined as an athlete, like you’re a ‘Division I basketball player,’ or a ‘student athlete.’ We’re defined by these labels that society gives us. Say you get injured and lose everything, you lose your dream. Then what do you have left? You have your identity in Christ, and I think that is what I want to focus on.”

Currently, the FCA is still in the planning stages, but Southworth hopes they will hold their first meeting in the beginning of October. She created the FCA Facebook and Instagram accounts and has also distributed flyers for the club, although much of the awareness comes from word of mouth.

Southworth’s friends on club and varsity sports teams have spread the news to their friends and teammates. A small group of players on the varsity baseball team formed their own Bible study group and were particularly excited to hear about the FCA, according to Southworth.

Although the name of the group might suggest otherwise, Southworth stressed that students do not have to be an athlete or religious to join the FCA.

“I want it to be very inclusive, not just Division I, but club, intermural, if you’ve ever played a sport before, even if you haven’t, all are welcome,” Southworth said. “It’s a really good mix. It’s people who are religious and aren’t super religious, which I think is great. It just opens up that conversation.”

Southworth was admittedly nervous about varsity athletes being able to be involved in the group because of their hectic schedules. She is considering holding a separate meeting for people who may be unable to attend the original meeting for the week, or meeting with people separately.

“I think it’s that important,” Southworth said. “I want to make what we go over available on the Facebook page. I want it to be a really inclusive community where everyone feels safe and welcome.”

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