Fred Crisp


Travis Long

Travis Long

by Jessie Ammons

photograph by Travis Long

Fred Crisp knows life lessons can be learned through sports. That’s one reason he became a coach for his church’s co-ed recreational basketball league almost a decade ago. “Our whole emphasis is on sportsmanship and Christ-like behavior.”

There’s also a practical element: “It’s better for these kids to rebel against authority in the gym, and maybe we can address it, rather than out on the street where the repercussions are so much greater.” Over the years, as his former team members began to return as coaches, Crisp gave up coaching to organize the league with other area churches. Middle and high school teams play every Saturday morning from early January through early March. He says it all makes for energizing and gratifying fellowship. “It’s great seeing these kids come up,” he says. “You feel like you’ve made some difference for the kingdom of God.”

But the work is not without its hurdles. “It gets chippy in there sometimes,” Crisp admits, “but that’s OK. It’s how you handle that chippiness.” This month, there’s another challenge: managing the inevitable distraction of March Madness. But he’s developed a practical approach. “We finish our league the weekend before the ACC tournament starts. Everybody either goes to the games or stays at home and watches them. We don’t try to compete against that.”

And as for Crisp? “I bleed Carolina blue. I grew up in Raleigh as a Carolina fan, and here I am still.”