STAFF WRITER JENNIFER FIERRO
BURNET — While the Fellowship of Christian Athletes all-star football game is the main event, the days leading up to the contest have been filled with highlights for the players and their coaches.
The Highland Lakes will have a strong representation among the FCA blue and gold teams when the game kicks off at 7 p.m. Friday, June 15, at Georgetown Independent School District Athletic Complex and Birkelbach Field, 2275 N. Austin Ave. in Georgetown.
Burnet High School head coach Kurt Jones will lead the blue team with help from Marble Falls High School head coach Mike Birdwell and Burnet assistant coaches Jerod Rye and Billy Cook. Also on the sideline will be coaches Sam Robinson of Round Rock Cedar Ridge, Chuck Peterson of Austin Hyde Park, and Charles Burton of Del Valle.
Local players on the blue team are Burnet graduates Seth Carpenter and Tyler Torres, Marble Falls graduates Bryce Murphy and Alec Oberle, and Lyndon B. Johnson (Johnson City) graduate Brett Harris.
On the other side of the field, Faith Academy of Marble Falls graduate Cabot Booth and LBJ graduate Chris Cloninger will suit up for the gold team.
Jones called it an incredible opportunity to work with great people and kids from other schools, noting that during the regular season, the focus is on your own program and players.
“There are tons of great kids all over Central Texas,” Jones said. “We’ll slow down a little bit and get down to the heart of doing this: shaping young people and their lives. That’s really what it’s about.”
Coaches also have the opportunity to exhibit their values, beliefs, and principles to the players, especially those who don’t normally interact with them. As a result, opinions change about rivals and meaningful friendships form.
“You really are pulling back the curtain,” Jones said. “You work with the other guys, you pick up a few of the Marble Falls kids and Llano kids, you get a chance to show a side of yourself. I think it’s encouraging for everybody. The coach or kid, they are a human being. It’s a foundation that runs deeper than competition in sports. Those things matter.”
Birdwell said he enjoys being a member of a coaching staff for this game for the same reasons Jones appreciates it.
“It allows for bonds to occur,” Birdwell said.
Jones was an assistant coach last year on the blue team and enjoyed the experience. When FCA officials asked him to be one of the head coaches last fall, he said yes.
Coaches drafted their players in January and will have 40 players on each squad.
“They hear some good messages and have an opportunity to meet and encourage a lot of people,” Jones said. “These seniors have graduated and are starting a new chapter in their lives. It’s a pretty critical time to be able to encourage the young people.”