The U.S. became the first nation in the world to win three Women’s World Cup titles last night, as the Women’s National Team (WNT) beat Japan 5-2 in an exciting win that highlighted true team unity.
FCA congratulates the WNT after its historic victory, especially standout midfielder Lauren Holiday, who was recently featured in FCA Magazine. In the May/June 2015 issue, Holiday shared that “(God) gave me the world’s stage to share His gospel.”
“All of us at Fellowship of Christian Athletes congratulate Lauren Holiday and the entire Women’s National Team for their stellar performances throughout the World Cup,” said FCA President and CEO Les Steckel. “For this Christ-following soccer standout to be on the world’s stage and impact her fans and young athletes is an amazing gift. What an incredible testament that hard work, faith and team unity truly does pay off in the end. The U.S. Women’s Team has truly made our country proud!”
In the final game of the World Cup, Carli Lloyd scored a hat trick with three goals in the first 16 minutes, and Holiday and Tobin Heath added a goal each.
“Young fans who are enamored by intense World Cup play can see firsthand that athletes like Lauren Holiday are dedicated in all areas of their lives,” Steckel added. “Their devotion to sports may drive them, but only a balanced strategy that puts Jesus Christ at the center will help young athletes grow into the person God designed them to be. That’s why FCA is committed to reaching student-athletes in all areas of their lives. We love sports, and competition is thrilling and rewarding, but there’s much more that happens away from the field that helps athletes fully reach their God-given potential.”
With the 2015 theme of “Undefeated,” FCA Camps offer student-athletes the opportunity to develop in their sport through outstanding instruction, skill development and intense competition, along with spiritual guidance from dedicated coaches and staff who concentrate on training the total athlete.
This year, FCA Camps focus on 1 Corinthians 15:57: “But thanks be to God, who gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” As the Camps website reminds, “We serve a God who has never lost. His string of victories is unmatched. He has dominated the competition throughout history…. God is holy. God is mighty. He is UNDEFEATED!”
Holiday certainly knows the importance of building a relationship with an “Undefeated” God while representing Him on the field. As a star for the WNT and the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) champion FC Kansas City, Holiday has no shortage of accomplishments on her resume, including the 2014 U.S. Soccer Female Athlete of the Year, four NCAA All-America awards and two Olympic gold medals. But Holiday told FCA that nothing comes close to the opportunity she’s been given to follow Christ and influence the world’s largest sports stage for Him.
Holiday was an athlete growing up and remembers watching Brandi Chastain and the U.S. WNT claim a 5-4 shootout victory over China to win the 1999 FIFA World Cup—the last time the U.S. had won a Women’s World Cup title, before last night.
“That’s when I realized how badly I wanted to play for my country,” Holiday said. “The World Cup made it real to me. That’s when I knew I wanted to play on that stage one day.”
She got her chance early, as part of the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup team while still a high school senior. After the U-20 World Cup, Holiday enrolled at UCLA, where she scored a conference-leading 19 goals. More importantly, her faith continued to flourish, as other believers on the UCLA team helped her grow. Also at UCLA, Holiday met her now-husband, Jrue, a point guard for the NBA’s New Orleans Pelicans.
Still in college, Holiday earned her first start with the U.S. WNT in 2007; in 2008, she was named as an alternate to the U.S. WNT’s Olympic roster. An injury to another player bumped Holiday to the official lineup, and she played in three matches. In 2009, Holiday also joined the Pali Blues, a California-based United Soccer Leagues developmental team. But despite her busy schedule, she was careful to put even more focus on her relationship with Christ, making sure to connect with Him every day.
In 2010, the Boston Breakers selected Holiday in the Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) league draft. Meanwhile, she finished as the U.S. WNT’s second-leading scorer, moving into the team’s starting lineup prior to the 2011 FIFA World Cup. By 2012, Holiday had played in 31 games for the U.S. WNT, including all six Olympic matches.
But many note what Holiday does before her games rather than during them.
Prior to each FCKC home game, Holiday invites everyone from the opposing team to pray. And when the Blues are on the road, she leads the team and others in prayer, too.
“Success is winning a gold medal,” Holiday said in an FCA video. “Success is being the best soccer player I can be. But the wonderful, wonderful thing about loving Jesus is, it’s not about me. And the spotlight isn’t on me. So when I do step out on the field for that gold-medal game or the World Cup, I get to play with freedom because I don’t have to worry about how I score or if I score or what happens if we lose or if I make a bad pass, because success isn’t determined on that with Christ. Yes, I love to win, and I know that God loves when I win, but when I walk away, my identity is still the same. I’m still a follower of Jesus Christ and, in a loss or in success, I can still be humble and give Him the glory.”
For young athletes who want to follow in Holiday’s footsteps, several FCA Camps are available for student-athletes, leaders and teams throughout the summer:
- Sports Camps focus on “Training the Total Athlete” and develop athletes mentally, physically and spiritually. Sports Camps are for athletes and coaches who want to develop their athletic skills. Outstanding instruction, skill development and intense competition prepare the camper for future athletic competition.
- Leadership Camps train athletes to be spiritual leaders in their personal lives, on their teams and on their campuses. The camps focus on teaching practical skills for Christian growth, developing as an effective leader and preparing for FCA Huddle ministry.
- Power Camps develop young athletes in their faith and their sport. Power Camps are typically for young athletes, ages 8 to 12 who want to develop their sports skills. These camps provide excellent instruction and competition through sports-specific and multi-sport focus. The camps are normally day camps that involve the local community.
- Team Camps equip teams with spiritual principles through competition and are designed to impact coaches and athletes for Christ through team competition. Coaches enroll their players to attend this camp as a team. Team Camps are a great outreach opportunity, and coaches benefit greatly by evaluating their team’s talent.
- International Camps focus on global impact and reach coaches and athletes around the world.
To find camps in specific areas or to inquire about volunteering at an FCA Camp, visit www.fcacamps.org.
Posted on Mon, July 6, 2015
by Derek Carmical filed under