There’s much more to participating in the Heart of Texas Fellowship of Christian Athletes Victory Bowl softball game than the game itself.

The FCA Victory Bowl starts Wednesday and includes community service projects, entertainment, practices and clinics.

For Ellison’s Madison Livers, who competed for the Red team, she felt the game was just an added bonus to what the week was.

“Overall, I thought it was a really good experience,” Livers said. “I had a lot of fun. I just gained a lot of life lessons throughout the week.

“The game was really fun, just because I love playing with different people I’ve never played with before. It was a good experience to see how well you work with people you’ve never played with, but I didn’t think the game mattered as much. It was fun, but the score didn’t matter, at all.

“Throughout the whole week, the Red and the Blue team got really close. The score didn’t matter, and I think everybody had fun — I know I had fun. But the service part was really cool. It opened my mind up, because some people aren’t as well off as others.

“So, when you’re helping out the community ... it’s just fun to give back.”

Florence’s Emily Jo Gray, who competed for the Blue team, agreed.

“It was just an amazing experience I got to have by going to play in the FCA Victory Bowl — not just to play in it, but to meet new people and create new memories I might have forever,” Gray said. “You meet some new friends you might have forever, after it’s all done with, and just getting to worship with everyone, getting to read scripture with everyone and getting to know everyone — you do come out of the FCA Victory Bowl with a changed heart.

“I came out with a different perspective on things. I got to see and hear a lot that changed the way I look at a lot of things. It was awesome to get picked for the FCA Victory Bowl and to participate in it.”

Naturally, athletes have a will to win and a disdain for their opponents, but that wasn’t the case Friday.

“It was fun to play that game,” Gray said. “The teams were split up, but I was with the Red team sometimes during the week and we all got to know each other. It was good to get to know them — they are all good people, and we were all there for one purpose and one goal.

“Just playing against them, honestly, you rooted for them to get a good hit. It really didn’t matter what the score was, we just all wanted to have fun playing in our last high school game.”

Ellison’s Anna Hontz, who competed with teammate Livers in the game for the Blue squad, agreed with Gray.

“Being with the other girls from other schools, it really helped,” Hontz said. “In Killeen, we just have the four high schools. But we met girls from Moody, West and Midway. Playing the game was really fun, and it was an honor to be chosen with the top people — because the other girls were really good — and it made me feel better knowing that I’m up to their standards.

“We were all equal. We’re all really good, and even though we were separated by different colors, we all came together.

“We were all softball players, and we knew each other. But we just wanted to make more friends, and it was really fun. I wish we could’ve done it more often.”

The Blue team won the game 14-5, but the tally on the scoreboard didn’t matter.

What the ladies were able to take away from the FCA Victory Bowl, in its entirety, meant much more than competition on the field.

Veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Previously spent time as sports editor at both the Hereford Brand and the Gatesville Messenger. Graduate of West Texas A&M University.

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