DETROIT, Mich. -- After completing an unparalleled career on the pitch for the women's soccer team, former four-year starting defender Jessica Niemi will take her talents and love for spreading the Word of God to new heights this summer. Niemi, Marygrove College's only four-time United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA) First Team All-American, will soon begin a summer of sports ministry training that will take her halfway around the world and back.
The opportunity arose from a tryout in Pennsylvania for the Women's Premier Soccer League (WPSL) in which Niemi unfortunately fell short of making the cut due to the amount of defenders present on the squad. Niemi's interest in the team wasn't primarily for soccer playing purposes. Rather, the former 2009 USCAA National Champion wanted to join the club because they used their passion for soccer as an avenue to spread the message of God.
While speaking to the coach in Pennsylvania, Niemi was made aware of a Chicago-based team, the Chicago Eagles, which operated much like the team she was originally interested in.
From there, the coach from the Chicago Eagles contacted Niemi and discussed a summer academy program their club runs. Within a week, Niemi was on board and joined the team. With the Eagles, soon-to-be Marygrove graduate will participate in their summer academy that operates as one of the many sites for Missionary Athletes International – an organization founded to use the world's most popular sport as a platform to spread the Word of God.
"I did not go looking for this opportunity, God most certainly opened this door for me," said Niemi in regards to her Chicago contact. "I had a couple phone interviews and within a week I made the decision to be a part of their program."
In June, the oft-awarded Academic All-American will begin training with the club three-to-four times a week and play games in the Illinois U23 circuit. More importantly, the former Mustang will help run clinics and talk to kids and their families about the Works of God. Niemi and the Eagles will fly to Brazil over the first two weeks of June to run soccer clinics and continue spreading their message. The mission trip will be followed up by a return to Chicago where the team will conduct a series of visits to the inner-city and surrounding suburbs to speak to the youth.
Niemi is currently exploring avenues to help fund her selfless summer expedition that comes with a price tag of $4,100. The entire amount must be raised by May 26th. For more information on Niemi's journey, please contact the Marygrove Sports Information Office at 313-927-1419.