Samantha Kelley

Location: West Chester, PA

Job TitlePresident and Founder

Organization: FIERCE Athlete Inc.

Education: UConn, Divine Mercy University

Degree: Bachelors in Finance and Political Science, Masters in Psychology

Samantha Kelley, GIVEN ’16

“Women have a place of leadership in the Church, and the Lord has given each of us a unique gift and call in order to serve and love him. The GIVEN Forum gave me permission to dream with the Lord, to open my heart, and to hear his call for my life in prayer.”                    – Samantha Kelley

Please share a little about yourself – feel free to include a fun fact!

I am a former D1 soccer player and am a competitive rower. I love working out, good craft beer, and traveling. The best place I have been was Calcutta, India – living and volunteering with Mother Teresa’s sisters for a month.

Describe your professional work/ministry. How were you led to this? What are you passionate about?

After encountering the Lord in adoration in college, I came to see the importance of a personal relationship with Him, and of sharing this relationship with others. It brought hope to every area of my life, and I became particularly passionate about sharing this with my teammates. I began to see the intersection of faith and sports. After college, I spent 5 years with FOCUS and Varsity Catholic, working with student athletes around the country.

“My eyes were opened to the beauty of femininity, the body, our desires, and our sexuality. These truths helped me heal in so many ways, but also, I saw them as a necessary anecdote for female athletes who struggle so often with issues surrounding their femininity, bodies, and sexuality.”

It was toward the end of my time with FOCUS that I went to a Theology of the Body course with the TOB Institute and my eyes were opened to the beauty of femininity, the body, our desires, and our sexuality. These truths helped me heal in so many ways, but also, I saw them as a necessary anecdote for female athletes who struggle so often with issues surrounding their femininity, bodies, and sexuality. I began to dream and pray and the Lord asked me to launch the nonprofit FIERCE Athlete Inc. to begin addressing these issues and helping female athletes heal, but also to prevent younger athletes from encountering such obstacles.

What are the personal strengths that you’ve been given and how do you utilize them?

The Lord has blessed me with a driven, passionate spirit. I also think elite athletics taught me many virtues such as courage, perseverance, discipline, teamwork and leadership. I have seen all of these come into play as I have started this nonprofit. I have since discovered the beauty of femininity, particularly in regard to receptivity and bearing life. These aspects are ingrained in us as women, and I have come to see how we live them through sports and working out. We are being receptive to pain, to our teammates, and to our coaches, and then we are bearing forth life in how we play, offer, and interact with others.

“The Lord has blessed me with a driven, passionate spirit. I also think elite athletics taught me many virtues such as courage, perseverance, discipline, teamwork and leadership.”

What women inspire you, and why?

Mother Teresa is a personal hero of mine, especially after spending time in Calcutta. I see how bold she was in following the Lord’s call in her life, and her courage, radical abandonment, and deep commitment to love are things I aspire to live out.

I see how bold Mother Teresa was in following the Lord’s call in her life, and her courage, radical abandonment, and deep commitment to love are things I aspire to live out.”

Are there friends and mentors that you depend upon? How do they support you?

Yes, I have a great Board of Directors who believe in me, care for me, and want to see FIERCE grow and flourish. I have mentors in my life who I can call when I am overwhelmed or need prayer. I have also found support with the Sisters of Life. It is a great gift to call them friends, ask for their prayers, but also go and spend time in prayer with them. It has been a resting place for me.

“I have mentors in my life who I can call when I am overwhelmed or need prayer.”

FIERCE also has a spiritual Board of Directors – saints whose specific intercession I ask for the mission: St. Joan of Arc, St. John Paul II, St. Elizabeth of the Trinity, St. Padre Pio, St. Philomena, St. Sebastian, Cardinal O’Connor and Mother Angelica.

What is the best advice/encouragement you’ve received about vocational discernment?

“God is often consistent in how He speaks to us.”

“Our vocation will allow for continual healing of our wounds.”

“We are all called to be mothers, and can live that out in a physical and a spiritual sense, even now.”

Prayer is essential for everyone, but especially for women who are active in the life and mission of the Church. Do you have any favorite devotions or prayers?

The consecration to Jesus through Mary. I also love offering up my workouts. Every workout becomes a prayer, and different sets, miles, and exercises can be offered for different intentions.

“Every workout becomes a prayer, and different sets, miles, and exercises can be offered for different intentions.”

What were your key takeaways from the 2016 GIVEN Forum?

Women have a place of leadership in the Church, and the Lord has given each of us a unique gift and call in order to serve and love him. That call could be something like this nonprofit I have started, but it can also be in being a loving wife, a devout friend, or an elite athlete. The GIVEN Forum gave me permission to dream with the Lord, to open my heart, and to hear his call for my life in prayer.

“The GIVEN Forum gave me permission to dream with the Lord, to open my heart, and to hear his call for my life in prayer.”

What was your GIVEN action plan? Describe its mission, audience, and impact.

My GIVEN plan was to form and launch FIERCE Athlete Inc. FIERCE Athlete (Femininity, Identity, Embodiment, Receptivity, Catholicism, and Encounter) exists in order to promote true and authentic femininity within female athletics based on the teachings of the Catholic Church. Our audience is all female athletes (current and former).

“FIERCE Athlete (Femininity, Identity, Embodiment, Receptivity, Catholicism, and Encounter) exists in order to promote true and authentic femininity within female athletics based on the teachings of the Catholic Church.”

I did not come to the Forum with the action plan of starting FIERCE. I was just going to just write a Bible study. But, through listening to the speakers tell their stories and seeing them living out God’s will for their lives in so many different spheres, I was empowered to seek the sphere that needed my attention, gifts, and story. Ultimately, GIVEN revealed that humility and receptivity allows God to speak and entrust us with His will. FIERCE is not mine, it is His.

“Through listening to the speakers tell their stories and seeing them living out God’s will for their lives in so many different spheres, I was empowered to seek the sphere that needed my attention, gifts, and story.”

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