Football was a passion for Rob Dowdy. Not only did he love it, but it helped him get a college education at the highest level.
However, the sport left him with three herniated discs in his back and nerve damage. He had to give football up before he even graduated, certainly sooner than he had planned.
He found himself wondering: What now?
"Football was that idol for me," Dowdy said. "Football was everything for me, and when it was taken from me, I didn't really know where to go."
In those situations is often when the truth is revealed.
As an offensive lineman at West Virginia University, Dowdy was heavily involved with the school's chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. It didn't take long for him to realize the answer he was seeking was within him the entire time.
"God showed up at the end of my sports career and really grabbed my heart in a way that I never expected," he said. "FCA was there, my faith was there and God was there, most importantly, to kind of pick up those pieces and put them back together. That's where my love for FCA really comes from."
From that point Dowdy has continued to feel God nudge him more and more toward the FCA. That path has led him to Beckley.
Dowdy was recently named the FCA's area representative for Raleigh County. The need was created when Mike White, who was the South Central representative for 23 years, stepped down last February to take the job as area director for the Western Triangle in North Carolina.
"I've been getting a lot of help and a lot of signs from God that this is where I need to be, this is where I've been called to," Dowdy said. "I didn't originally want to come on staff with FCA. Being heavily involved as a WVU football player, I always had a love for FCA, but I never saw myself in ministry. But God slowly started pulling on my heart more and more."
While in Morgantown, Dowdy met Monroe County native Brian Young. The two struck up an immediate friendship and strong bond, and Dowdy was soon a frequent visitor to southern West Virginia. The two would attend FCA functions at several area schools, and Dowdy became more and more comfortable with the area.
"The moment that I really realized this is my calling was being here at a camp sharing my testimony. Kids were coming up to me and telling me they had similar experiences, similar stories and how much it really helped," Dowdy said. "So God really started working on my heart around them. You know, 'This is something you want to look into.'"
He's been through their experiences and wants to help them through it.
"God can do mighty works through a lot of organizations and through us, but FCA is just a calling for me, because athletes, just like myself, put so much faith and so much of themselves into that sport, and once it's done you can get lost," he said. "God has a light to guide us through that darkness. Knowing that experience and having that experience, I hope to do the same for athletes that are going through it or may go through it (in the future). Even if they don't, even if they have a long career. Well, OK. But how can God be your focal point through your entire athletic career?”
Dowdy is also closer to family through his new position. His stepmother La'tisa works at WVU Tech, his sister Lashawn works at a local hospital and his little brother Les is a junior at Woodrow Wilson High School.
Dowdy said the pandemic has slowed down the things he is able to do, but that's not a bad thing. Still new to the area despite his familiarity, it's important to go at a methodical pace.
"I want to set a firm foundation for the ministry, really get connected with the local pastors and the coaches and the athletes in this area before everything starts going real fast and real far," Dowdy said.
"Rather than do a lot of things OK, we want to do small things great. Doing things for Christ in excellence."
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