WACO — The Fellowship of Christian Athletes Victory Bowl started Monday with the newly added all-star golf competition.
For the past three years, University High School coach Carl Thomas has been working with the FCA, advocating for the addition of golf. Now, in the Victory Bowl’s 10th year, it is a reality.
“It took off, and we ran off with it,” Thomas said of golf being added this year. “It was really kind of neat, because then, we got a chance to get new sports with FCA, and we’ve got outstanding community involvement.”
Victory Bowl athletes are recently graduated seniors from the Central Texas.
Athletes were divided into two teams — Red and Blue — and coached by local head coaches. Those chosen to participate were nominated before being selected by the Victory Bowl coaching staffs.
“I feel very honored to be selected for it because I know not everybody is since it’s such a big organization,” Jamie Rich, of Salado, said. “To be able to show my faith through my sport is something that’s really important to me.”
Sixteen golfers, including five area players, competed in match play with the Blue team taking an 8-1 win on Tuesday at Waco’s Twin Rivers Golf Course.
“I enjoyed the format of match play,” Wyatt Weir, of Belton, said. “It’s a little less stress than stroke play is.
“Even if you lose one hole, it’s OK. You’re only down one or up one, so that’s good.”
The Red team was led by Thomas and Waco’s Sara Mabile, while the Blue team was coached by Landon Wesley, of Temple, and Harvie Welch, of Waco Midway.
Each team consisted of five boys and three girls, but Thomas hopes to expand next year and invite eight boys and four girls.
“We’re hoping to open it up next year to juniors and seniors,” he said, noting golf would be the only sport to do so due to not being a contact sport that could impact an athlete’s senior season.
The Blue team included Rich, Weir, Jett Truss, of Gatesville, Anthony Ybarbo, of Shoemaker, Mason Mikesha, of Midway, Paige DeJong and Kodee Crouch, of Hamilton, and Timothy Handlos, of Jarrell.
The Red team had McGregor’s Alli Ainsworth, Paige January and Hunter Ripley, Austin May from Midway, Teague’s Ben Whitaker and Kaitlin Villa, Hunter Krumnow, of Valley Mills, and Juan Arredondo, of Whitney.
While it was a competition, the athletes got more out of the event.
“(The important things are) the friends you get to make and the camaraderie that comes with it,” Ybarbo said, “and having that one thing that brings you together – faith.”
Through all the fellowship and golf, there’s one other thing that will tie all of them together, because they were the first to take part in the competition.
“If this continues on for the next 15 years like all the other sports have,” Truss said, “it would be neat to look back and say, ‘Hey I was part of that when they first started this tournament.’”