Thomas Shephard is a farmer in North Dakota. He’s also a Christ-follower and former athlete. Inspired by a desire to share the Gospel with high school and college athletes and coaches in remote regions of North Dakota and Minnesota, he started a monthly group through the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
It’s Northern Light FCA and meets in Grand Forks, N.D., a central location for athletes and coaches within a two-hour radius. FCA groups are popular on college campuses and in larger cities, but not eastern North Dakota or western Minnesota. With about a dozen athletes in attendance for the first meeting, nearly 200 showed up by the fourth.
“A lot of schools don’t have FCA, but the idea behind it is every school has athletes,” Shephard told WDAZ.
To attract more students, Shephard brought in North Dakota State quarterback Easton Stick last week, along with Hunter Pinke, a tight end for North Dakota.
“It’s important to understand you have an identity outside of sports and your purpose for your life and for why you play sports is much greater than winning and losing,” Stick said.
Stick was mentored well. Prior to taking over starting duties with the Bison, he backed up Carson Wentz, who’s now with the Philadelphia Eagles. As a freshman, Stick won eight games while Wentz was out with an injury, and NDSU went on to win its fifth straight FCS national championship with Wentz back under center.
Stick started the entire 2016 season as a sophomore, but the Bison fell to James Madison in the semifinals. In 2017, NDSU faced James Madison in the title game, and captured its sixth championship in seven years. Stick was named Most Outstanding Player.
Congratulations to quarterback Easton Stick on being named the Most Outstanding Player of the #FCSChampionship! pic.twitter.com/Y0h5U0s63u
— NDSU Football (@NDSUfootball) January 6, 2018
Stick says he remains good friends with Wentz.
“He was a really good role model for me,” Stick said. “He just had such a good understanding of our offense, and the way he prepared during the week is something I could follow.”
Wentz has never been ashamed about sharing his faith, and by speaking to Northern Light FCA, neither is Stick.
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