FCA brings BG, UT coaches together

There are few rivalries in Northwest Ohio as celebrated as that between the Bowling Green State University Falcons and the University of Toledo Rockets.

Often described as a civil war, the rivalry literally pins mother against son and brother against brother. Toledo head coach Tom Amstutz, a former Rocket football player, will have to listen to his mother, a Bowling Green alumnae, sing “Ay Ziggy Zoomba,” while Bowling Green’s starting defensive back senior Mike Malone will battle his little brother, University of Toledo’s sophomore cornerback Antonio Malone, for family bragging rights.

This year will mark the 68th meeting between the two schools. In honor of this meeting, the Northwest Ohio/ Toledo Fellowship of Christian Athletes will sponsor the University of Toledo/ Bowling Green State University Unity Breakfast. This event will bring together Rockets’ coach Tom Amstutz and coach Gregg Brandon of Bowling Green State University to share a meal just days before the rivals kick-off in Bowling Green’s Doyt Perry Stadium on Friday. The breakfast will be held Tuesday at the Holiday Inn French Quarter in Perrysburg. Bowling Green alumnus Mark Miller, formerly of the Green Bay Packers and the Cleveland Browns, will be the keynote speaker.

According to Brandon, while Coach Amstutz is something quite unusual to be brought to his table, it’s good publicity for the FCA and its mission to foster unity.

“Anytime you have a rivalry it brings something special to the table,” he said.

Coach Amstutz and Coach Brandon will also share their experiences within the fellowship of the church.

“In working with student athletes, it is important to work with the whole person,” Amstutz said. “I became a coach because I enjoy working with the players and seeing them develop into well-rounded men.”

The FCA holds similar breakfasts across the country. Director Rev. Rick Isaiah, a former Rocket football player, knows the rivalry well.

“This is Northwest Ohio, and this rivalry is never going away, but Psalm 133:1 says, ‘How good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity.’ Our objective was to expose to the community two dynamic, and successful Christian coaches, who allow FCA to impact their teams for Christ.”

The FCA has had an impact on both teams. Many players from both teams assist the FCA with its summer football camp, and participate in FCA ministry group, FCA chapel service or FCA Bible study.

These players are seen as an inspiration to Rev. Isaiah. “They have the God-given gifts to play a game that not many can play,” he said. “Their discipline and work ethic to excel at the game of football will go with these players into their various careers after college.”

Rev. Isaiah recognizes the success of the young men comes from the coaches. “Their commitment is amazing because there are so many players, yet they somehow impact all of them in some way to make them better men.”

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes was founded in 1954 by Don McClanen. Since then, the FCA has grown into the largest interdenominational, school-based, Christian sports organization in America. The FCA focuses on serving local communities by preparing, empowering and encouraging people to make a difference for Christ. The Toledo branch serves Ohio’s Northwestern athletes at the junior high through the collegiate level.

Tickets for the benefit breakfast are $50 and may be purchased through the Northwest Ohio/ Toledo FCA. For more information contact Jill Ibsen at (419) 842-1824.