HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: Bronchos create tight bond through fellowship

The numbers fluctuate from week to week, the lure of sleeping in a few extra minutes sometimes too great to overcome after three days of early-morning wakeup calls for practice.

In this case, the numbers don’t matter … the message does.

Each Thursday morning since the third week of the school year, the Odessa High football coaching staff has been holding Fellowship of Christian Athletes gatherings in the OHS fieldhouse.

Open to all the athletic programs, those in attendance have predominantly been football players to this point as head coach Dusty Ortiz and offensive coordinator Creighton Reed work to make the group an integral part of the school.

Working in conjunction with Jocelyn Kennedy of the Permian Basin FCA, Ortiz and Reed are looking to create a foster atmosphere not only within the football program, but the campus as well.

“There has to be coaches that are willing to get it started and that was one of the other things I saw on Creighton’s resume that he was big in,” Ortiz said. “And I’ve been a part of it most of the places I’ve been at, so when I brought him that was another thing I was like ‘Okay, we can get that started here.’

“That’s something that is on my heart and what I want to do. I just feel like it’s, you coach football, and like I said in my interview, if they just leave here better football players then I’ve failed.”

Reed has been involved in FCA as long as he can remember, as a player and a coach.

Even when he was neither, as well, working in Waco helping to mentor students and athletes at Baylor University while he was out of the profession for a year before moving to Lake Worth High School, his most recent stop before coming to the Permian Basin.

On the same page with Ortiz when it came to getting FCA more exposure at Odessa High, Reed set about bringing coaches on board that shared the same philosophies on and off the field.

“That was step one; every coach we hired, on the offensive side of the ball anyway, the first priority was that we were going to be three-dimensional coaches,” he said. “We are going to coach them up not only physically, but mentally and spiritually as well.

“Just have a heart for these kids. Once the kids learned that, they knew the coaches had their back and were in their corner, they were like what do you want us to do?”

The meetings begin with 10-15 minutes of activities before breakfast is served. After that, Reed, Ortiz or a guest speaker will talk to the assembled group.

Speakers from Crossroads Church and Stonegate Fellowship are among those that have taken time to talk with the students.

“Some of the local churches, they help us out, they know people from the community that will come out and give an inspirational speech on something biblical,” Ortiz said. “Stonegate has been good, Crossroads has been really good to us, they come out every week; they have representatives and members from their church are here every week, week in and week out.

“And then we also have the FCA area (representative), her name is Jocelyn; she’s out every week. People donate to FCA and with her program, she can come out and provide breakfast for us, drinks for us, so she’s providing that for us week in and week out.”

What the Bronchos are providing for their athletes is equally important.

Ortiz says there is a core group of about 20-plus that show up on a regular basis and that he can see a difference in the way those student-athletes work through their days, especially those that don’t already have a faith-based foundation at home.

“Last week’s message was more of a “we” type message, where we are trying to create that family,” Ortiz said “It’s all about helping each other out and so forth.

“I can take those messages afterwards and talk to the whole team afterwards. The kids that are showing up, you can see they are starting the day off better; they are having really good Thursdays.”

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