This story appears in FCA Magazine’s January/February 2017 issue. Subscribe today!
Hometown: Lincoln, Nebraska
• Lincoln Southeast Girls Varsity Head Coach (2012-current)
• Lincoln Southeast Girls Freshmen/Reserve Coach (1999-2012)
• Class A State Championship (2013)
• As a player at Lincoln Southeast, helped lead the Lady Knights to three straight state titles (1993-95)
“This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9
Kara Graham has trusted in the Lord throughout her life, diving deeper in her faith through FCA in high school and in college as a basketball player. Now in her 17th year—fifth at the varsity level—coaching girls’ basketball at her alma mater, Southeast High School in Lincoln, Nebraska, the campus FCA Huddle co-sponsor makes it a point to create a family culture within the competitive and successful program.
FCA: What has God been teaching you lately?
KG: To lean on Him instead of my own understanding. I’m trying to be content with what He’s doing, while working just as hard and not being satisfied. My biggest issue right now is that I’m very competitive, and when a team is not as competitive, I’m trying to find different ways to invest in them and help them see how sports can help them in life. God’s kind of leading me to, “What are you doing so you can still get something out of this season for each individual?” I feel like that’s on me to make sure it’s a positive experience for them.
FCA: What’s been one of your biggest challenges?
KG: My mom passed away from a breast cancer battle three years ago. I would always get a lot of strength from her, and it’s been really cool to see how God has grown me through that process, how I’m finding strength in Him. When I was an athlete, it was about doing “all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13, NKJV). But now it’s more about helping myself and my players learn how to deal with adversity. There is always adversity, so it’s a reminder to be strong and courageous and not afraid. In all circumstances, He is with me. I have to ask the Spirit to lead me, and every single time it seems like He does just that.
FCA: How do you experience God’s comfort?
KG: It’s so important to get into His Word and get involved in Bible study. God just wants you to talk to Him, cry out to Him in prayer, have a relationship with Him. Sometimes I’m anxious when I go to bed, and after having a good conversation with God it’s unbelievable how much He can relax you if you ask Him. I want to continue to feel His arms wrapped around me. I want Him to be my Father. And I want to feel comforted and safe like He’s with me wherever I go.
FCA: What do you see as one of the major needs of young athletes these days?
KG: They are self-focused right now. Athletics can make or break you, and for athletes to have a place like FCA where they belong is good. FCA’s always grounded me. I was a Huddle leader at camps, and that really affected my heart and helped me invest in others. With my FCA kids, I can talk to them about doing sports God’s way. In the basketball setting, helping them with basic character traits—how to be nice to one another, what it means to be a good sport.
FCA: Who helps support you in your career and your faith?
KG: My friends and family have always been my go-to people—my sister and brother help with stats on the bench with me, and my dad comes to all our games. So that keeps me grounded, and those are the same people who spiritually inspire me. Basketball is a long season, and it’s tough if it isn’t going well, so it’s good to have priorities in check and be reminded of what I’m really doing—investing in young people and hopefully making a difference for eternity.
FCA Staff Quote:
“Kara is an incredible coach who loves Jesus. She is solid on the gospel and really does have an eternal vision for her program. She has been involved in FCA for a long time and is very well respected around the state of Nebraska.”
FCA Area Representative
Photos courtesy of Kara Graham