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FIERCE Athlete encourages truth, beauty, and healing in female sports


madeline rublee

Theresa Civantos Barber - published on 07/18/22

One college soccer player wanted to help other female athletes know their identity in Christ and live a full, integrated life.

Samantha Kelley was a Division 1 soccer player at UConn living a typically unhealthy college lifestyle and experiencing a bout of depression when a FOCUS missionary invited her to Eucharistic Adoration. 

In Adoration, Kelley had a radical encounter with Christ. After this, she says, “I was no longer playing for me, I was playing for Christ.” 


Upon graduation, Kelley spent a few years as a FOCUS missionary and then worked for various Catholic nonprofits. It was during this time that she began to feel called to work with female athletes

“I began to dream and pray, and the Lord asked me to launch FIERCE to address these issues, to help female athletes heal, and also to prevent younger athletes from encountering some of the same obstacles I faced.”

She wanted to help other female athletes know their identity in Christ and live a full, integrated life. And so FIERCE Athlete was born.

FIERCE offers mentorship, educational resources, training and formation for female athletes. It offers so much to help young women be physically, mentally, and spiritually strong. 


We had the chance to catch up with Samantha Kelley and ask her a few questions about her work with FIERCE. Here’s our conversation. 

What inspired you to start FIERCE?

I was involved with collegiate athletics at the D1 level, as well as mentoring many athletes as a collegiate campus missionary, and I saw firsthand the broken and toxic environment that female athletes were trying to live in. 

The Lord put it on my heart to start this mission in order to show female athletes the truth of who they are as daughters of God, the beauty of their bodies, and the proper embracing of their femininity. 

Together we aspire to positively change the culture of women’s athletics.

Why is FIERCE unique in the world of sports?

FIERCE encompasses the best parts of sport. It is unique in that it inspires women, specifically, and pulls truths from the Catholic Church and Theology of the Body in order to develop the female athlete on a physical, mental, and spiritual level. 

What kind of impact is FIERCE having on the young women who participate?

I have been blessed to watch women’s hearts be changed by the Lord. When FIERCE is able to speak the truth about their body and who they are as women—it changes everything. 

It helps the ladies I mentor find freedom to dig deep into the struggles they face and be grounded in the truth and beauty of who they are. They truly shine as God intends them to both on and off the field.  

What is the most important thing to know about FIERCE?

The important thing to know about FIERCE is that we are passionate about truth, beauty and healing. We believe our athletic ability is given by God to serve him and helps us to become more deeply the people we were created to be. 

The most important thing we want our female athletes to know is that you are loved. Deeply loved, not for how many goals you scored or how far you can hit a softball but as a treasured daughter.

Catholic LifestyleSportsWomen
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