Welcome Back to Class
How do faith and sports connect at the college level? Thanks to Tavon Arrington and his team at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) they are connected in more ways than one.
Arrington leads the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) at UAB. Before arriving at UAB, Arrington played football at Troy University where the FCA chaplain Lonnie Cochran had a tremendous influence on his life. “He is the person God used to ultimately bring me on staff with FCA,” Arrington says. After the football program at UAB ended and then restarted in 2015, Arrington received an offer from Coach Bill Clark to be the chaplain at UAB. “We then started the process of raising financial support for me to be the chaplain,” Arrington says, adding, “I’m now going on my sixth football season ministering to our coaches and athletes and their families.” Even though his primary responsibility is the football team, he also ministers to athletes in every sport at UAB.
“Being in my role, you see people in the best of both worlds. You see people at their highest moments- like winning a conference championship- while you also see them in their lowest moments- like losing a family member,” Arrington says. He is thankful for the great board and staff- that includes Multi-Area Director Jack Baker- that allows him to do Bible studies for coaches (every Wednesday morning) a weekly Multi Sports Huddle where athletes from every sport can come for a time of food, fellowship, and the Word. “Our huddles really build a strong sense of community between all sports at UAB,” Arrington believes. He and his team, including Sarah Witkowski, allow the athletes to lead the huddles and they love to see and hear how they have grown in their faith. The difference FCA has made on the UAB campus is tremendous, Arrington says. His goal was to reach all athletes- male and female. Through hiring female staff and more, “we have a ministry that gives everyone an opportunity to grow in their faith and find community.”
UAB’s FCA reaches out beyond campus. Arrington- along with FCA’s Board Chairman Charlie Nowlin and Metro Director Bill Gray- realized that many schools around campus didn’t have an FCA presence on campus. They started brainstorming ways to use the momentum happening at UAB to reach the inner-city schools all around them. “God put in my life Myles McKee- who was a former quarterback at UAB living in Titusville who already had a heart for athletes at Parker High School,” Arrington says. McKee joined forces with FCA to continue his work. “We have seen so much growth in Parker and other schools in the area. We have 11 FCA huddles that meet around the inner-city.” Recently, they saw eight athletes at Parker High School get baptized.
For the upcoming school year, Arrington hopes to reach “just one more person.” FCA is 100% supported by churches, businesses, and individuals. To learn more about FCA’s impact, visit www.fcabirmingham.org.