2011-03-11 / Local News

PROPHECY FULFILLED

Former Gamecock Succop delivers message of hope to local audience
By JOE L. HUGHES II Ledger Staff Writer joe@gaffneyledger.com


Above, former University of South Carolina place-kicker Ryan Succop autographs a Kansas City Chiefs hat for local minister Bucky Brown during the local Fellowship of Christian Athletes annual banquet. To the left, Succop, the starting kicker for the Chiefs, takes the podium as he begins his message on the importance of FCA and being faithful to Christ. Above, former University of South Carolina place-kicker Ryan Succop autographs a Kansas City Chiefs hat for local minister Bucky Brown during the local Fellowship of Christian Athletes annual banquet. To the left, Succop, the starting kicker for the Chiefs, takes the podium as he begins his message on the importance of FCA and being faithful to Christ. Obsessed with every accurate pass and elusive juke, viewers worldwide are glued to their television screens anxiously hoping their respective NFL teams come out on top and take another step closer to its ultimate goal of winning the Super Bowl.

But once the clock hits zero and the combatants have left the field for the shelter of everyday life, little is known about these men whom some refer to as “heroes,” beloved for their superior talents and poise under pressure.

While an improbable victory or a game-winning kick might provide Kansas City Chiefs’ kicker Ryan Succop exhilaration which can carry on for hours long after the contest’s conclusion, the greatest joy for the former University of South Carolina star comes not at the use of his hands or feet, but rather the actions of others accepting Christ as their personal Lord and Savior.

“In high school, I was trying to find fulfillment in accolades and partying, basically trying to do things on my own,” Succop said. “But with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, it brought the fulfillment I was looking for elsewhere. I’ve seen what this ministry can do; it changed my life and I’ve seen it help many others, including a number of my teammates.”

Providing a message of faith and perseverance despite the circumstances, Succop served as the keynote speaker Tuesday night at the local Fellowship of Christian Athletes’ (FCA) annual banquet at the Broad River Electric Cooperative Auditorium.

One of the nation’s most efficient kickers during his time at the University of South Carolina, Succop converted 49 of 67 career field goal attempts and scored 251 total points, ranking 10th in school history. In 2009, he was drafted by the Chiefs with the 256th — and final — pick of the NFL Draft, thus being dubbed the year’s ‘Mr. Irrelevant.’

“It was kind of a matter of being at the right place at the right time,” Succop said. “Being drafted was an answer to prayer; it was very neat seeing God’s hand move on my behalf. Along with the fact FCA national offices are literally located right across the street from Arrowhead Stadium, it was as if God had a mission for me right there in Kansas City.”

Believing it was his opportunity to make an impact at football’s highest level, Succop stepped into the starter’s role his first season in Kansas City and converted 25 of 29 field goal attempts, breaking a longtime rookie record held by Chiefs legend and Pro Football Hall of Famer Jan Stenerud. He followed that up the next season with another solid campaign, making 20 of 26 attempts and helping the Chiefs win their first AFC West title since 2004.

Football may be big business in South Carolina as it is throughout the Southeast, but that was not Succop’s focus as he took the podium Tuesday. Making a broader impact than what occurs on any field of play are matters of the soul, and where it is destined — heaven or hell — upon leaving earth.

“It’s incredible the things God has going with this ministry. It really is a great tool to reach souls for Christ,” he said. “A statistic I saw recently said approximately twothirds of people choose to live for Christ before the age of 18. You never know the impact you can make in a young life.”

In addition, the NFL kicker shared how much of a role the FCA has played in his life, allowing him the opportunity to become closer to God and serve as a better example to others.

“When you hear about the NFL, you usually hear about the bad things, but one of the best surprises I received when I got to Kansas City was speaking to Ingle Martin, who invited me to a playersonly Bible study,” Succop said. “The Bible study is still going strong today, and is one of the best parts of waking up and going to work.”

Particularly at work are those with the local FCA branch, which reaches 73 athletic teams, 189 coaches and nearly 1,600 athletes. In addition, the Cherokee County chapter formed the first program for youths playing in Little League sports such as football, baseball and basketball.

“Last year, our theme was that we were asking for rain; and we got that rain,” said county Fellowship of Christian Athletes Little League program coordinator Johnnie Godfrey. “Now we must cultivate those fields so we can continue to see growth.”

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