TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — The power of faith; that’s what West Central Indiana FCA leaders say is steering growth of the program in recent years.

“We have started up I believe eight new huddles at different campuses,” Area Director Joe Summers said. “Most of them in Vigo County, but also in surrounding counties as well, and it’s just been a very positive thing.”

FCA huddles are small groups that gather for regular Bible studies and devotions. At Indiana State University, the huddles consist of worship music performances, peer testimonies and small group discussions.

ISU track and field athlete Kaylen Gustafson has been involved with FCA off and on since middle school, and said the group has provided her with different things at different times in her life.

“In 7th grade it definitely helped me come back to my faith,” Gustafson shared. “There was a long part of my life where I didn’t go to church and those Wednesday mornings at 7:30 once a week were like my only church that I got. Now, being in college, I’m older now and I get opportunities to talk to the people who, like, I was in their shoes when I was in middle and high school, which is a really cool thing.”

Gustafson said she encourages middle and high schoolers to stay involved with FCA if it is offered at their colleges, and also hopes to recruit more people to join at ISU during the rest of her college career.

In the past year, FCA has been a resource for student-athletes at ISU grieving the loss of their teammates and classmates, losses both the football and softball programs have faced.

Aside from the support system provided by the group, Summers said the benefits of joining FCA include the opportunity to earn a scholarship through the Character Counts Award.

“When a coach, or an athletic director, or principal nominates a student, we’re not necessarily looking at their points per game average,” Summers said. “We’re not looking at how many D-1 scholarships they have offered. We’re looking at the fact of who are they, not only on the court, but off the court as well.”

Summers said each year, four $1,000 scholarships are awarded to two high school students (one male and one female) and two college students (one male and one female); but it isn’t a scholarship or incentive that keeps student-athletes coming back to their FCA huddles.

Rather, it’s the sense of community and the belief in someone bigger cheering them all on.

“It’s a great way to, you know, be closer friends,” Gustafson said. “Sometimes you only see your teammates at practices or meets or competitions, and this is a great way to grow closer with your team, but also grow closer with Jesus, which is the most important thing and the most important goal.”

West Central Indiana FCA is hosting its annual Night of Champions event on Thursday at 6 p.m. at Northside Community Church in Terre Haute. Former NBA player Jermaine Taylor will be the featured guest speaker.

West Central Indiana FCA is always looking for more people to get involved, from student-athletes to coaches to huddle leaders. Learn more about getting involved by visiting the group’s website.