LAURINBURG — Tar Heels football coach Larry Fedora was in town Thursday evening to speak at a fundraiser for the local Fellowship of Christian Athletes group.
Fedora was the featured speaker at Laurinburg Presbyterian Church where he talked to a crowd of approximately 250 people in the church’s auditorium. Many of those in attendance were coaches and players from Scotland High School and the middle schools of the county, while others were UNC fans who came to hear the coach talk.
The dinner was held to raise money for the FCA, which was established in 1954 and, according to its website, strives “to see the world impacted for Jesus Christ through the influence of coaches and athletes.” Paul Lemmond organizes the Scotland County chapter of the organization, which helps to provide Bibles to members and feed the football team before games during the season.
Fedora said the FCA has always played a huge role in his life ever since he joined the organization as a freshman in high school. He was a member of the ninth grade football team when his coach, John Cook, started a chapter of FCA at the high school in College Station, Texas, where Fedora grew up.
“I wouldn’t be where I am today without it. I wouldn’t be the head coach at UNC if it wasn’t for FCA,” Fedora said, before detailing his coaching history that eventually led him to Chapel Hill.
A strong believer in the power of goals, Fedora said he wrote down several goals in a FCA Bible in ninth grade — a Bible which he still has to this day. Scattered amongst the short-term goals of height, weight and school grades were goals for the distant future. One of which was to become a Division I football coach.
“We are goal-oriented animals, and nothing can keep you from your goals except yourself,” Fedora said.
Mitch Mason is the chaplain for the Tar Heels football team, and he joined Fedora in the trip to Scotland County, as he spent the day travelling around and speaking to students at the high school and all the middle schools in the county. Fedora said one of the first things he did after taking the UNC job was to bring Mason on with the program.
“Hiring Mitch was the best decision I’ve made at UNC,” Fedora said.
Mason, Fedora said, is at every practice and every workout the football team does, and is someone the players can talk to, all while Mason tries to lead them forward in religion.
In addition to Fedora, a couple of students from Scotland High School spoke before the dinner, which was catered by Captain Larry’s and Smithfield’s. Scotland quarterback Jaylend Ratliffe addressed the crowd and talked about how coach Richard Bailey brought up the idea of FCA after joining Scotland. Ratliffe said he didn’t think much about it at first, but after he became the starting quarterback he joined the organization.
“When I’m playing out there on the field, it’s all due to God,” Ratliffe said.
Senior Kendall Romaine, a cross-country runner, said he joined the leadership team midway through his freshman year and has enjoyed it ever since. The leadership team meets at 6 a.m. on Wednesday mornings to plan the weekly events, Lemmond said.
All of the money raised from the dinner goes to help the FCA fund trips or buy supplies for the club, Lemmond said.