STAFF WRITER JENNIFER FIERRO
MARBLE FALLS — While Barney Sarver could have included several recommendations for Marble Falls Middle School coach Joe Powell’s nomination for Fellowship of Christian Athletes Austin-area Coach of the Year, it only took one.
“They know coach Powell, and they know me,” said Sarver, the Hill Country FCA area representative.
It turned out, Sarver’s recommendation was the only one needed as the FCA named Powell its Coach of the Year for the Austin area. It’s the first time a Marble Falls Independent School District coach has earned the recognition.
Though Powell knew about his nomination, he was surprised the Austin FCA staff and board members selected him.
FCA’s four core values are integrity, serving, teamwork, and excellence, and Sarver said Powell embodies every one, noting the coach is a servant.
One of the things Powell stresses to students and student-athletes alike is the importance of having a well-balanced life that includes being strong in academics and physically in shape and having a spiritual life. That’s especially important in middle school, when students experience a changing body and mind, he added.
“That’s why I’m involved with FCA. I have a passion to help kids,” Powell said. “All glory to God.”
Powell also thanked his fellow coaches, especially Marble Falls Middle School coach Mike McDowell, who has been involved with the local FCA chapter for several years. Powell credited the effort and work of Principal Roger Barr, school administrators, and local churches in creating an uplifting and supportive atmosphere on campus.
“It takes a village to raise a child,” Powell said. “It’s a team effort for sure.”
Sarver had no hesitation in nominating Powell for the FCA honor.
“I’ve been involved with FCA for 36 years,” Sarver said. “When you put together the whole group of coaches over the years, coach Powell is at the top.
“He hasn’t slowed a bit,” Sarver added. “He’s always smiling. His impact on (students) — he’s always positive. That’s the core value of FCA.”
The Marble Falls Middle School FCA chapter meets weekly either the day of a sporting event or the day before and draws up to 80 students.
The regular meetings are only part of FCA. Powell encourages students to attend FCA leadership camps, which many do. He also organizes trips to University of Texas sporting events, usually on FCA nights for a particular game. It’s a chance many middle school students might not get without the efforts of Powell and other local FCA leaders.
During the latest trip on March 3, 60 middle school students attended the UT men’s basketball game as the Longhorns defeated West Virginia 87-79 in overtime. Then, the students watched the Longhorn baseball team beat Northwestern University 16-3 in the night-cap game.
However, it’s more than just watching athletic contests. In between games, the students met with UT players and coaches and listened to their testimonies.
Of course, the students picked up a few autographs as well.
“Those kids had never been to a college game and met the coaches and players,” said Marble Falls Middle School boys athletic coordinator Jamie Graham. “To watch (college athletes) play, it’s eye-opening.”
The Austin-area FCA territory includes 12 counties and involves coaches at high schools, middle schools, private schools, and colleges. Sarver noted he works with more than 170 coaches and 24 schools, and Powell is among the best.
“We’re proud of Joe,” Graham said.
Powell will be honored during the Night of Champions Banquet on Tuesday, April 3. Pro Football Hall of Famer Tim Brown, who played for the Los Angeles Raiders, is the keynote speaker. Go to fcaaustin.org for more information on the banquet and FCA.