Don McClanen, Founder of Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Dies at 91

Don McClanen / FCA
Don McClanen / FCA
Vision of Oklahoma basketball coach 60 years ago now reaches 2 million annually.

Don McClanen, who founded the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) in 1954, has died at the age of 91.

“Don’s unwavering commitment and vision truly enabled FCA to grow to where it is today, encouraging millions of coaches and athletes to lead lives that are dedicated to Christ,” said Les Steckel, FCA president and CEO, in a statement. “Sixty-two years later, that vision is alive and well through FCA, influencing lives for Christ across the globe—an amazing legacy.”

McClanen was born on February 3, 1925, in Trenton, New Jersey. He served in the Navy during World War II, then attended Oklahoma State University. After graduation, McClanen coached high school basketball before becoming the athletic director and men’s basketball coach at Eastern Oklahoma University.

McClanen’s dreams of using sports to influence young people began after a speaker at a physical education conference he attended warned the audience that they could either lead youth “up a mountain or down a drain.” From FCA’s statement:

McClanen was challenged to be a better model of his Christian life and told the Lord he would surrender to His will. Inspired by the conference, he began saving newspaper and magazine articles about Christian athletes and coaches.

After reading that 30 million American youth had no religious training, McClanen began posting his articles in the locker room and praying before games. Soon, he was dreaming of a way for well-known Christian athletes to advertise their faith on television and in magazines the way they advertised other household products.

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SOURCE: Christianity Today
Morgan Lee