USA Wrestling Jeff Pratt named Lea...

Jeff Pratt named Leadership Board Chairman of new FCA Wrestling program

By Gary Abbott | March 05, 2009, 3:14 p.m. (ET)

Jeff Pratt of Nashville, Tenn. has been selected as the Leadership Board Chairman for FCA Wrestling, the new national sports ministry with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA).

Pratt's leadership role was approved and endorsed by the special task force for FCA Wrestling. He will begin immediately in helping form the new volunteer Leadership Board which will ultimately oversee the program.

With a strong background in wrestling, ministry and leadership within the FCA, Pratt brings a wealth of knowledge and enthusiasm to his new post.

"It is time to roll our sleeves up and get to work," said Pratt. "I have a saying with my wrestling team about strapping our shoes on. That time has come for FCA Wrestling. We will be able to instill values in young people. FCA Wrestling on the national level will be able to do just that."

The task force, chaired by USA Wrestling Executive Director Rich Bender, was formed in September and tasked to recruit a national leadership board to oversee the program. The selection of Pratt as Leadership Board Chairman for FCA Wrestling will be followed by announcements of the leaders who have agreed to serve alongside Pratt on the leadership board.

Pratt currently serves as the Director of Student Ministry Training and Events for LifeWay Christian Resources, located in Nashville, Tenn. where he as served since 2006. He has previously been a camp speaker, guest lecturer and teacher in various seminary and college classes on the topic of student ministry

He has served in a number of ministry positions since his career began in 1988. He served as Bi-vocational Pastor with Green Level Baptist Church. He was the Pastor of First Baptist Church in Gray, Ga. and Perryville Baptist Church in Perryville, Ky. Pratt was also student minister at Shirley Hills Baptist Church in Warner Robins, Ga. and South Garland Baptist Church in Garland, Tex., as well as church planner/pastor for Long Branch Baptist Chapel in Dahlonega, Ga.

Pratt received his Master of Divinity degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1992. He received a bachelor's degree in recreation from Carson-Newman College in 1986.

Pratt competed in wrestling at Carson-Newman, where he earned All American honors and represented the USA on an NAIA All-Star team in 1985 in Greece, Paris and Yugoslavia.

"My passion for this project involves my personal experience of coming to Christ," said Pratt. "I became a Christian through wrestling. I went to Carson Newman for college. I went there to wrestle. Carson Newman was close to my home and offered me a scholarship. On my team, there was a gentleman who loved the Lord and was a testament for Christ. He showed me what it meant to be a Christian. I came to Christ on January 11, 1985. Prior to that, the wrestlers on our team were often rowdy. Many of the wrestlers became Christians and were saved. In just one semester, eight of the guys became Christians. It showed us the power of coming to Christ. God was transforming our lives. Many of those wrestlers are now in fulltime ministry. That is my story and that is what drives my life. Wrestling is such a big part of all of this."

Pratt is the head wrestling coach at Donaldson Christian Academy in Nashville, Tenn. for the second year. He has served as a volunteer coach in the communities where he has lived, and has helped start wrestling programs there. For example, he worked with 1988 Olympian Nate Carr to get wrestling started in Gray, Ga. when he lived there.

FCA Wrestling became the eighth national sports ministry for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. FCA National Sports Ministries focuses on ministry to a community of people who are united around a particular sport by providing opportunities to serve athletes and coaches in that particular sport.

"My involvement with FCA began as a college student. Before becoming a Christian, my exposure to the Bible came through FCA activities on my campus. Once I got out of college, the more I got involved in student ministry, I found FCA was a great way to get connected to students at the youth level," said Pratt.

Once the Leadership Board for FCA Wrestling is established, it will be tasked to hire a national director, and begin fundraising for the new ministry of FCA Wrestling. Pratt is very excited about the many leaders who are stepping forward to serve on the Leadership Board.

"To me, one of the most exciting things is the level of involvement and commitment of our Leadership Board, which is now being formed," said Pratt. "Outstanding people who are actively involved in wrestling are stepping forward. God is doing great work. Those who are stepping forward are amazing people. When wrestling coaches and athletes see our Board when it is completed, there will be a ton of credibility for this program. As a group, we will have the opportunity to influence coaches, and they will have the opportunity to influence their athletes, not just in wrestling but in life."

Pratt was married to Julie Renee Lay in 1986, and they have three children, Cole, Madison and Alec. He spends most of his spare time raising his three children, hunting ducks, and occasionally playing a round of golf.

FCA Wrestling is expected to name its Leadership Board members during the next few weeks.