BELTON — It’s high school athletics infused with community service wrapped in fellowship.
The Heart of Texas Fellowship of Christian Athletes Victory Bowl is underway this week with top area athletes coming together to compete and serve in unity.
For the second year, the community effort includes a high school baseball and softball game at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor. The games both start at 6:30 p.m. Friday on the adjacent fields on the university campus in Belton.
The fourth annual volleyball game is at 12:30 p.m. Saturday at University High School in Waco. The ninth annual football game is at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at the Waco ISD Stadium.
All four games feature high school athletes who just completed their senior years.
The schedule includes fun group activities, devotional times, practice sessions, skills competitions and community service in addition to the games.
Killeen Independent School District will be represented in each contest except the volleyball match.
The baseball roster includes Garet Douglas, of Ellison High School, and Jacob Mitchell, of Harker Heights High School. Ellison coach Ty Opperman is part of the selected coaching staff.
The softball roster includes Madison Livers and Anna Hontz, both of Ellison High School.
The football roster includes Tyler Kanaly, Jamaal King and Hector Velasquez, of Killeen High School, and Maceo Branch, of Shoemaker High School.
Athletes receive roster spots based on coach’s nominations and selection from the Victory Bowl coaches.
A cheerleading squad is also part of the roster. Kristina McCormack, of Killeen High School, is a Victory Bowl cheerleader.
Tickets are $5 for the baseball/softball games and the volleyball game and $10 for the football game. Proceeds benefit FCA.
“It’s an honor to get selected,” said Opperman on Wednesday as athletes and coaches gathered on the field for team photos prior to a practice. “It’s great to get to work with these young men.”
He pointed out that the game gave him some extended time with one of his own players, Douglas, who he has coached the past four years. He was also excited to spend time with other coaches in the region.
The 20-year coach said the profession can leave you weary and that gathering with peers in such a positive environment was refreshing. “We can focus on the real reasons we got into coaching,” he said. “It revitalizes you.”
“It’s already been fun,” said Douglas during batting practice. “It’s a great experience.”
The catcher, who is headed to Hill College to continue playing baseball, said he met someone set to be a pitcher at the same college.
“It’s another high school experience for us,” the Ellison graduate said. “I’m ready to play. We also have community service and that’s a time we can interact with the community.”