FCA Coach Leaves a Legacy

Zane Harvey served as a huddle coach for the Nebraska FCA for the past 14 years in Broken Bow, NE, until his death on June 1. He was killed while driving a van carrying 10 members of the Broken Bow boys’ basketball team. His van was struck head-on by a pickup truck in the Sandhills. Harvey along with Anthony Blum were killed along with the driver of the pickup, Albert Sherbeck. All eight students survived the crash but two of the players still remain hospitalized three weeks after the accident.

Besides serving as Zane’s FCA Area Director for many years, I continued to work closely with him on FCA activities and projects when I began directing the training and curriculum development for the Nebraska FCA. It was difficult for me to co-officiate his funeral on June 8, but I knew he would have wanted me to proclaim the gospel to others in the midst of this tragic event.

So how did Coach Harvey leave a legacy?

First, he influenced students through years of FCA camps in Broken Bow. Whether it was an FCA football camp he directed or a Shooting Camp he organized for FCA, he consistently looked for ways to reach students with the gospel. When he wasn’t organizing something like a huddle meeting or camp in his own town, he was always bringing students to and serving at FCA camps, FCA banquets, Weekend of Champions, FCA Golf Tournaments and attending FCA coaching outreaches.

All of this activity was focused on leaving a gospel legacy. Several former students told me after his funeral how the Lord used Zane’s efforts to reach them with the gospel. In fact, one student even committed their life to Christ shortly after the funeral upon hearing the gospel message. Even in death, Zane was still preaching the gospel to his students. You can read an excellent ESPN article about Zane’s influence on his players here. 

Second, he influenced other coaches by leading FCA coaches bible studies. In fact, he was always willing to field test any new bible study I was developing. It’s appropriate that he was my first coach to field test the “Legacy Builder Series” that I published for FCA. Last fall, he also piloted my newest coaches study, “Called to Coach.” There was never any question in my mind that Zane Harvey was called to coach. During the past 14 years he always coached three sports and supervised the weight room during the summer months.

Third, he impacted the community of Broken Bow. As ESPN reported, “Zane Harvey was everywhere (Broken Bow).” He was a faithful servant at the Broken Bow Evangelical Free Church where his bother Scott has pastored the past six years. When I filled pulpit for his church a couple years ago, it was Zane who was responsible for all the technical aspects of the service. in fact, prior to his funeral, I had brought a DVD tribute by Nebraska football Running Backs’ Coach Ron Brown that they were unable to play because Zane wasn’t there to make sure it worked. Fortunately, we were able to play the video on the internet because Zane had made sure the church was connected to the internet. The church was even able to stream the funeral service across the internet because he had setup the system. More than 4,000 people have watched the 20-minute tribute/gospel presentation by Coach Brown since the funeral. 

I will miss my friend and partner in gospel ministry, but I’m thankful that he finished strong, loyal to his players, friends and family. In fact, his last words to the players in the van before the crash were “Hold on.” Even with his final breath, he was still coaching his team.

During the service, I read two statements that I knew Zane would have wanted me to make clear — What is the Gospel? and the Gospel Facts. Both of these statements are listed below. Besides including these two statements in many of my publications, I had often discussed these with Zane.

Finally, my prayer at the funeral was to thank the Lord for our hope in Christ, the hope that through faith in Him we pass from death to life, from hell to heaven, from punishment to reward, from pain to joy, from torment to peace. Though he is gone, I prayed that his life and legacy will continue to speak to God’s honor and glory as it did when he had breath himself. May we all be faithful to follow his example.

What is the Gospel? Christians often say that Jesus died for our sins. But what does that mean? Why did he die? What has he accomplished by this death on the cross? What effect does his death on a cross have on us? Here are the gospel facts that every believer needs to know.

Gospel Facts: That the one and only one God, who is holy, made us in his image to know him. However, we have sinned and cut ourselves off from him. Because of God’s love for us, God became a man in Jesus, lived a perfect life, and died on the cross. He fulfilled the law himself by taking on the punishment we deserved for the sins of all those who ever turn to and trust him. He rose again from the dead, showing that God accepted Christ’s sacrifice and that God’s wrath against us had been exhausted. Now, God calls us to repent of our sins and trust in Christ, we are born again into a new life, an eternal life with God.


1. What coach has had the most influence on you? Why?

2. The word “legacy” is defined as transmitting something to another person. What type of legacy do most coaches try to leave?

3. What do you want to be remembered for?

4. Why do most people only think about death at a funeral? What lessons should people learn from a funeral?

5. Read 1 Corinthians 15:17, “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.” Why is our faith in vain if Jesus did not raise from the dead?

6. What stood out to you in the “Gospel Facts”?

7. In your own words, what are the Gospel essentials you would tell someone they need to know.

8. Discuss the following statement:

“The Gospel is called the ‘good news’ because it addresses the most serious problem that you and I have as human beings, and that problem is simply this: God is holy and He is just, and I’m not. The good news of the Gospel is that Jesus lived a life of perfect righteousness, of perfect obedience to God, not for His own well being but for His people.” — R.C. Sproul


Gordon Thiessen has served on staff with the Nebraska FCA since 1986. Currently, he is the Director or Training and Resources for the Nebraska FCA. He has a weekly blog, Sports In Focus. You can subscribe to the podcast at itunes and the blog here. He has also founded Cross Training Publishing (www.crosstrainingpublishing.com). He co-authored Team Studies on CharacterCalled to Coach and edited The Athletes Topical Bible. He is married to Terri and has four grown children. You can find out more information about the Nebraska FCA at www.nebraskafca.org.

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