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By GOOSE LINDSAY
Football season is a busy time of year for Luke Ladd.
No Ladd isn't coaching one of the many high school teams in the area. But he does spend a lot of time in the locker room and on the field speaking to Roane, Loudon and Morgan County players as part of his mission with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA).
“I tell them what God has put on my heart,” Ladd said. “I challenge the players to make good choices both on the field and off. I challenge them to choose to serve God and not the world.”
Ladd knows what most of the athletes deal with on a daily basis. He was a collegiate golfer at Walters State. However, he admits that during that time he strayed away from God and deep down he wasn't happy. But then last summer he got the calling.
“I never saw myself in this position, but I came to them (FCA) after I felt the calling,” he said. “My dad's (Chip Ladd) involved with FCA and I had been involved with FCA since I was 12 years old. I told them if there was an opportunity in Roane and Loudon County that I'd love to help.”
As it turned out, FCA was looking for help in the area. FCA activities for Roane, Loudon and Morgan counties were at that time were based out of Knoxville. That made it hard for schools in this area to receive a lot of attention.
Ladd admits that, even knowing what God wanted him to do, that he was still nervous at first.
“It was definitely a nerve-wracking thing at first. My first day on staff I was called to speak at Lenoir City, and I was nervous,” Ladd said. “But with prayer and confidence in Christ, I've become more comfortable the last few months.”
Athletes, however, aren't the only ones benefiting from the FCA expanding the reach in Roane, Morgan and Loudon counties. Oliver Springs head coach Wiley Brackett says it helps coaches keep things in perspective.
“We had FCA when I was a player, and I think it's awesome that it's back and Luke is helping the kids,” Brackett said. “I know it's good for me because I can take a step back and think am I doing things the right way? Am I being a good role model for these kids? The No. 1 goal of our coaching should be making sure our kids are living right and living for Christ.”
Ladd said that plans are even in the works for area coaches to meet and have Bible study.
“One area of the FCA ministry is reaching out to coaches,” Ladd said. “Coaches have such a huge impact on their players. Every coach in Roane County has been awesome; they've all opened their doors to me. I already knew most of them because my grandfather Hoot (Jim Gibson) coached at a lot schools in this area including Kingston. They've welcomed me with open arms.”
Ladd and the FCA have a big event scheduled on Wednesday, Oct. 14 at 7 p.m., when Rockwood's Civitan Field still be the site for FCA's 2009 Fields of Faith.
"My vision for Fields of Faith is for all of Roane County's athletes, coaches, fans, parents and churches to come together for one purpose and that's to worship God," Ladd said. "We want to present the gospel in a way for people to come to know Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior."