MURRELLS INLET—Student athletes at St. Michael School now have a way to combine their love of sports and their faith.
St. Michael recently started a Catholic Athletes for Christ club, the only chapter of the national organization in South Carolina.
Most of the club’s national chapters involve high schoolers, but the St. Michael program is open to middle school students. Meetings are held once a month in the morning before classes and are open to any interested kids, not just those who play on the school’s teams. Students pray together, have faith-based discussions and watch videos that focus on issues of sportsmanship and faith.
Tara Joseph is the club’s moderator. Her son and daughter play on St. Michael’s soccer and basketball teams. She learned about Athletes for Christ early in 2016. After reading about its mission, she talked with the principal and Father Edward Fitzgerald, pastor at St. Michael Church, about starting the program.
“It’s a great new way for kids to encounter Christ,” Joseph said. “We discuss virtues and values which apply to everybody. The students learn life lessons they can apply anywhere, not just in sports.”
At their March 1 meeting, the club welcomed a special guest, George Felton, who coached the University of South Carolina Gamecocks men’s basketball team from 1986-1991. Felton also was an assistant coach for the University of Kentucky Wildcats and a college scout for the Indiana Pacers. He now lives on Pawleys Island and attends Precious Blood of Christ Church.
Felton talked about his career, described the discipline needed to compete at a high level, and showed the students how faith and athletics can help them in their future lives.
Jacqueline Brown has two children enrolled at St. Michael and her son, Aaron Brown, is a member of CAC.
“I really like the program because it teaches kids that athletics and other talents are given to them by God, and they need to use them to make a difference in the world,” Mrs. Brown said. “It’s not just about how much money you make and how many things you have. The kids learn about athletes whose lives are rooted in faith. They learn that God wants them to use their talents to help others.”
Aaron, a seventh-grader who plays on the soccer and basketball teams, said he enjoys being a member of the new club.
“I get to see other people that are Catholic athletes and follow their example,” he said. “We’re learning to have good sportsmanship and have faith in Christ.”
To learn more about the group, visit www.catholicathletesforchrist.org.
Photo provided: George Felton, former coach of the University of South Carolina Gamecocks men’s basketball team, speaks with the Catholic Athletes for Christ group at St. Michael School in Murrells Inlet recently.