On the web: Watch FPCA’s challenges and vote at www.findingundeniable.com
First Presbyterian Christian Academy now is vying in a national championship — not for athletics or academics, but for spirit.
The Hinesville Christian school is competing against North Carolina’s Needham Broughton High School in the final round of the second annual Under Armour Finding Undeniable challenge.
Broughton, in Raleigh, has a student body of 2,100 and 19 varsity teams. It’s a Goliath compared to FPCA, which has 110 high-school students but still manages 14 varsity teams.
The winner will be determined by online votes and last year was announced at the Under Armour All-America High School Football Game in St. Petersburg, Fla. That game is scheduled for Jan. 5, 2013.
“Just to compete, we’re going to have to get 3,000 votes a day, and that’s an enormous amount for our size — but it’s not an enormous amount for our community …,” school spokeswoman Maria Reed said.
The voting also will be blind, so voters will not know who is in the lead. Voting opened Tuesday and will run through Jan. 4, Reed said.
The challenge began with 750 schools that completed 15,000 challenges and amassed 4.5 million points, according to the challenge site, www.findingundeniable.com.
Last year, FPCA was a finalist, but did not take the grand prize of $140,000 in apparel, accessories and footwear.
This year, the competition has taken Highlanders on an 18-hour train journey to New York City, where they rallied crowds in Times Square and appeared on “Good Morning America.”
Their name has flown sky-high on a banner with skydivers, and they’ve closed roads to strut their spirit in downtown Hinesville on less than two days’ notice.
For the most-recent video challenge, the students did a mud run at Big Nasty ATV Park, the swim team took dawn dives in the Atlantic off St. Simons Island, and the soccer teams showed their moves on Jekyll Island.
“We did a mud run, and I think it was the best bonding experience that this school has ever had … I think every person should do a mud run, because it will change you — you are not boy or girl or black or white or pretty or ugly because you’re muddy, and you just really reach inside yourself,” Reed said, explaining that the experience is one that requires stamina and team support.
Those are exactly the traits the school is culling to invigorate students, families and support for 18 days of voting, even during the holidays.
“This competition has been longer this year; it has been more difficult this year…” Reed said. “This is the last year we’re going to do this competition, No. 1, because I think we’re going to win it, but No. 2, because I don’t think the school and the community could take it — I mean, we’ve been living it for 60 days, it has been completely overwhelming, and it takes your entire life, … our key is not the work, but how did we outdo what we just did?”