The Fellowship of Christian Athletes will induct six ministry partners into its Hall of Champions later this year.
George Crace, Mark Mestemacher, Don Cockroft, Joel Dearing, Jerry Moore and Dr. Sam Nader have worked tirelessly to further the FCA vision: to see the world transformed by Jesus Christ through the influence of coaches and athletes. FCA Hall of Champions honorees over the years have consisted of a mix of coaches, athletes and volunteers, including sports greats such as Bobby Bowden, Tony Dungy, Tom Landry, Tom Osborne and Roger Staubach, just to name a few.
“These selfless and giving individuals have not only made contributions to the sports they love, but also to the communities and teams to which they are committed,” said FCA President and CEO Shane Williamson. “We are immensely grateful for their service to Jesus Christ through FCA, as we honor George Crace, Mark Mestemacher, Don Cockroft, Joel Dearing, Jerry Moore and Dr. Sam Nader by welcoming them to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes’ Hall of Champions Class of 2018.”
George Crace is an FCA volunteer/coach who has been involved with the sports ministry for over 20 years. He has served as a Huddle Coach, FCA Camp football clinician and is a certified 3D Coach presenter.
“Although he is my dad, he has been involved with FCA for over 20 years!” said one nominator and Crace’s son. “He introduced me to the ministry when I was entering into middle school and I attended my first camp with him in Oregon.”
Crace spent 40-plus years of his life as a football coach and has a place in the top 10 winningest football coaches in Oregon. He is a graduate of Harvard and Stanford universities, is an independent educational consultant and has over 40 years of experience as a school administrator, school counselor and highly respected athletic coach to thousands of students.
He is currently the CEO of Crace College Consulting, where he helps students and their families prepare for the next steps of college, specializing in college admissions, scholarships, athletic recruiting and career exploration. He and his wife, Donna, also run a non-profit organization called The Total Development Center that focuses on the development of youth through academics, athletics and field development.
Mark Mestemacher serves as an FCA board member in the greater St. Louis area. He is also a board member and the financial chair of FCA Wrestling, a member of the FCA Midwest Region Leadership Board, a member of the “24 Hours with God” FCA Wrestling Camp Fellowship and a Coaches Huddle Leader in Edwardsville, Illinois.
Mestemacher was a student-athlete at Collinsville High School in Illinois and Illinois State University in the 1970s, and later coached at the Edwardsville Wrestling Club and the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Center, which has a strong partnership with FCA thanks to Mestemacher’s involvement.
“Mark Mestemacher is passionate about seeing the world transformed by Jesus Christ through the influence of coaches and athletes, and he has shown a true commitment to seeing that vision fulfilled through his close, personal involvement and leadership in the lives of coaches, athletes and FCA staff members at all levels,” wrote one nominator. “Mark is a committed disciple of Jesus Christ, a devoted Christian husband and father, and a key lay leader at Metro Community Church in Edwardsville, Illinois. He is truly being used to make an impact for the gospel locally, regionally, nationally and even internationally.”
Mestemacher has also demonstrated his commitment as a servant-leader through personal, financial and spiritual contributions to FCAcoaches’ Bible studies, local campus Huddles, Camps and community ministries. He was instrumental in raising funds, planning and designing the state-of-the-art Jon Davis Wrestling Center in Edwardsville, one of the most impressive wrestling-specific buildings in the U.S. Mestemacher regularly organizes trips for coaches to national events, where they are able to connect with other coaches and athletes who are making an impact for Christ through sport. In 2017, he helped facilitate an FCA missions trip to Ukraine for 13 wrestling coaches and athletes, the impact of which is still being felt in Ukraine and in the lives of the participants. He is married to his wife, Carol.
Don Cockroft is a longtime FCA donor and supporter who began the FCA Huddle at Adams State University in Alamosa, Colorado. He also serves as a local FCA board member and as a speaker at countless FCA Huddles and events. He was first exposed to FCA in 1964 at a camp in Estes Park, Colorado, where FCA’s popular Camps program was born.
Cockroft played football with the Cleveland Browns, filling the positions of punter and placekicker for 13 seasons from 1968 to 1980. He has the third most career points for a Brown behind fellow kickers Phil Dawson and Lou Groza. Cockroft was also active with FCA while playing professional football.
“Don Cockroft is like a walking billboard for FCA,” said one nominator of Cockroft. “There is rarely a person he encounters who will not hear about his passion for this ministry. He served faithfully as a local FCA board member through much of the ’90s and mid-2000s. He has spoken at numerous FCA events, sharing his testimony and the impact that FCA has on his walk with Jesus Christ. I can’t think of a worthier person for this honor.”
Cockroft is married to his wife, Barb.
Joel Dearing serves as an FCA campus adviser and has been the FCA Huddle sponsor at Springfield College in Springfield, Massachusetts, for 26 years. He was also the catalyst for a strong Coaches Huddle in the city of Springfield over the past year. Dearing is also a volleyball coach, FCA Camp director and author.
Dearing served in many roles before joining the Springfield College faculty in 1989, including director of athletics, associate director of athletics and assistant director of athletics for Roger Williams University. He also coached men’s and women’s collegiate volleyball at Springfield and Roger Williams, spanning 1981 to 2010. He is the owner and director of Dearing Volleyball School, Inc., which he’s been running since 1984, and the author of “Volleyball Fundamentals” and “The Untold Story of William G. Morgan—Inventor of Volleyball.”
“Joel Dearing is the reason why the athlete Huddle at Springfield College has persisted for 26 years,” wrote one nominator. “He and I started working closely together to strengthen the Campus Huddle, which led to me introducing the Coaches Ministry to him. Joel has since started a Coaches Huddle at Springfield College that is open to the public, where upwards of 11 coaches come to be strengthened together. The faithful commitment of Joel to the ministry of FCA has played a significant role in the growth of the FCA ministry in central and western Massachusetts.
Jerry Moore is an FCA volunteer and speaker and has served as an athlete and coach at FCA Camps, Huddles and events all over the country.
With a background as a football player and coach, Moore came to Christ as a high school athlete through FCA and the influence of a coach. He has faithfully served Christ through FCA as an athlete, coach and volunteer for 60 years.
“The thing that makes Jerry Moore so special and deserving to be part of the FCA Hall of Champions is that for the past 25-plus years he has driven literally all over the country to speak on behalf of FCA,” wrote one nominator. “He has spoken at Camps, clinics, outreach and development events. He has been a faithful and available resource for our staff.”
Athletically, Moore was a football receiver at Baylor from 1958 to 1960 and a football coach from 1965 to 2012. Over his career, he won three national championships, 10 Southern Conference championships and three AFCA Coach of the Year honors in 23 years as head coach at Appalachian State University. He is also a member of the College Football Hall of Fame and is married to Margaret.
Dr. Sam Nader
Dr. Sam Nader serves as the campus faculty representative for FCA at Louisiana State University. He is the longest standing member of the LSU football staff, finishing his 42nd year with the program.
Currently LSU’s assistant athletic director for football operations, Nader has been part of two national championships, six SEC titles and 29 bowl games. Responsible for overseeing all day-to-day administrative duties for the LSU football team, Nader joined the LSU staff as a graduate assistant in 1975 and was hired by head coach Charles McClendon as a full-time assistant coach in 1977; he also worked as the LSU recruiting coordinator from 1980 to 1993, when he assumed the role of administrative assistant for football operations until his promotion to assistant athletic director in 2000.
Nader was a quarterback for the Auburn Tigers from 1963 to 1967, and in 1968-69 served as assistant coach at Jordan High School in Columbus, Georgia. He was promoted to head coach and athletics director in 1970, serving in that capacity until 1974.
“Coach Nader is the embodiment of what we as staff are trying to accomplish each and every single day of our lives in ministry,” said one nominator. “He has just been doing it as a coach for 42 years! In many ways, coach Nader is the standard of what a godly man should look like. He is humble, gracious, honest, a man of great personal integrity, a man who listens more than he speaks, a man who is deeply committed to his wife and family, a man who is faithful to reading God’s Word and his devotion to his relationship with Christ. I have never heard him speak a negative thing about anyone or any situation. … he is a living breathing example of the Fruit of the Spirit. He is the epitome of the man behind the scenes who truly wants no credit for his life of service.”
Dr. Nader is married to Ann.
This spring, the Class of 2018 along with their families will be honored during a special event at the FCA National Support Center in Kansas City. Inductees will be presented with a special award, and photo and biography will be a permanent part of FCA’s Hall of Champions display.
The Fellowship of Christian Athletes Hall of Champions was established in 1991. There are now 107 godly coaches and athletes plus board members and volunteers who have received this special tribute. They make up a group of FCA servant-leaders who have faithfully served Christ through the avenue of FCA. Their commitment to the Lord’s work has impacted millions over the years. They are a body of teammates in Christ who have demonstrated a consistent commitment to the support of FCA, nominated by staff and board members and elected by a selection committee.
Click here to read more about the Class of 2018 and to view a complete list of previous Hall of Champions inductees.