Al Melo and Dave Hogan cruised down the fairway of the Country Club of Colorado Springs in their golf cart.
The pair of athletic directors — Melo for Harrison High School and Hogan for Harrison School District 2 — spent the warm day on the links golfing.
While it sounds like a laid-back adventure, the duo’s outing served a larger purpose.
Hogan and Melo tried to golf 100 holes in eight hours as part of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes’ golf marathon.
The goal of the event was to raise money for the FCA’s general pool, and their golf quartet, which included Randy Rocha and Clayton Whitney, managed to raise nearly $2,100.
The FCA provides opportunities such as sports camps and religious retreats for area kids, as well as for students around the state. Despite the rigorous challenge, Melo didn’t flinch when offered the opportunity to participate.
“Besides camp, they’ve bought our sideline coats for football, they’ve provided kids chances to go to certain places when our kids have done speaking engagements,” Melo said. “It’s opened a lot of doors for our kids.”
DeVon Washington, one of the beneficiaries of FCA’s generosity, expressed gratitude for the organization’s help.
The Harrison High School grad, who now runs track at Colorado State University, got involved with FCA during his sophomore year after a buddy on the Panthers’ football team, Tristan White, explained the group’s benefits.
White, who went to Vanguard but played football at Harrison, participated in FCA activities at his school and eventually paired with Washington to create a similar group at Harrison.
The effort by Washington and White ballooned to more than 25 kids by Washington’s senior year.
“We incorporated what students in the [D-2] area would like,” Washington said. “We created something called Walk of Faith and we’d donate a pair of shoes to a student or student-athlete. Inside the box would be a verse saying something along the lines of join FCA and continue to walk by faith and not by sight. That’s how we grew our group.”
The local FCA not only benefited others, but it also provided comfort for Washington in his time of need.
Washington said his dad walked out of his life during his teen years. Without the family’s patriarch around to guide him, he craved mentorship and eventually found that FCA filled the void left behind.
He was at a concert by Run51, described as a “genre-bending super group,” during an FCA retreat that changed his perspective.
The lead singer of the band grabbed the mic, looked into the crowd and said, “Place your hands in the air if you feel the Lord’s presence and you’re ready to fully give yourself to the Lord.”
“Something came over me and said, ‘Put your hands in the air,”’ Washington said. “Without knowing what I was doing, I put my hands in the air because I felt so much power. It was such a powerful moment. All my boys were with me hugging me and crying with me. That was so special.”
And the golfing experience — as long as it was — served as a way to bring that connection to more student athletes.
But the adults on the course soon learned that 100 holes is a lot of golf. The friendly competition gave way to just getting through, they said.
“In the end, you realize after so many holes that the body can’t take it,” Melo said.
But they sustained their drive to complete the eight-hour event by reminding themselves what the day provides for kids.
“It’s great that we win football games and win games in a lot of sports, but it’s about the camaraderie and the relationships those kids build outside of school,” Melo said. “A lot of the kids they meet are from different schools and those are memories those kids have to cherish forever. That’s bigger than any game you’re ever going to win.”