Robert Upshaw, who recently resigned as central Arkansas director of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes to go into fulltime teaching at Arkansas Baptist High School, still will have a ministry that will touch the University of Central Arkansas.

He has served as UCA’s team chaplain for several years, conducting staff devotionals each Tuesday as well as becoming a mentor/counselor to the athletes.

The devotional situation is in a state of flux with Upshaw’s new job. But he still has a ministry assignment at UCA.

UCA coach Clint Conque has determined that his incoming freshmen will be the major mission field.

"Robert will work with them to develop both a spiritual formation and work with leadership skills; it is faith-based but also leadership concentrated," Conque said. "We actually talked about implementing it last year as we discussed ways to develop leaders."

Why not upperclassmen?

"We feel that if we start with freshmen, we can develop leaders with the right focus over time," he said. "We want a steady stream of good leaders and not get caught in any one year with a void. We want to grow our leaders and we hope by at least the third year in our program, they will be strong leaders."

Upshaw was the guest speaker at Monday’s meeting of the Arkansas Sports Club. From Blanco in southwest Texas, he’s one of 16 children whose dreams of a professional baseball career were derailed by injury. He played football for Steve Roberts at Southern Arkansas University, then dedicated his life to enriching that of other young people through FCA.

Passionate about Christianity, Upshaw said he’s convinced that "God uses sports as an arena to reach hearts."

As he pursues another avenue in his career, he remains committed to both high school and college youngsters and is excited about the program he is developing at UCA.

"I want to pour into those kids the love that God poured into me," he said. "I want to help these young men get through life without all the scratches we might get from trying to do things our way."

Much of the talk this time of year concerns offensive coordinators and defensive coordinators. Here’s one coordinator, off the radar and off the field, who could be just as impactful.

Sports columnist David MCCollum can be reached at 505-1235 or david.mccollum@thecabin.net