Join us as the University of Mary hosts its annual Greatness through Virtue summer institute, bringing together coaches, administration, and others involved in athletics for three days of dynamic presentations and discussion on the characteristics and ingredients of success and greatness.

A Virtue-Based Approach to Athletic Excellence

The institute, held on the beautiful campus of the University of Mary, includes talks from seasoned and successful coaches, athletes, and clinical professionals from across the country, panel discussions to dig deeper, meals, receptions, and socials.

The Greatness through Virtue summer institute offers:

  • Three-credit continuing education credit
  • Talks from accomplished coaches and athletes. In the past, we’ve had Matt Birk, former Minnesota Viking and Super Bowl champion, Dr. Larry Widman, psychiatrist and mindset coach, and Sabrina Little, professional trail and ultrarunner.
  • Networking opportunities.

2022 Institute — June 13-15

Monday, June 13

11 AM-12:30 PM – Lunch (Crow’s Nest*)
12:30 PM – Registration
1-4:30 PM – Welcome and First Session

  • 1:05 PM – Jerome Richter, EVP, UMary
  • 1:45 PM – UMary Vision continued
  • 2:45 PM – Samantha Kelley

4:15-5:45 PM – Reception (Chesterton’s)
4:15-7 PM – Dinner (Crow’s Nest*)

Tuesday, June 14

Breakfast – Crow’s Nest
9 AM-12:30 PM – Second Session

  • 9:15 AM – Roger Thomas
  • 10:15 AM – Rich Gannon
  • 11 AM – Mike Van Diest

Lunch – Crow’s Nest
2-5 PM – Third Session

  • 2:10 PM – Andrew Swafford
  • 3:30 PM – April Lund

4:30-6 PM – Reception (Chesterton’s)
4:30-7 PM – Dinner (Crow’s Nest*)

Wednesday, June 15

Breakfast – Crow’s Nest
9 AM-12:30 PM – Fourth Session

  • 9:15 AM – Vern Dosch
  • 10:30 AM – Thomas Wurtz

12:15 PM – Institute Ends
12:15-2 PM Lunch (Crow’s Nest*)

*(all meals optional but complimentary with ticket)

Samantha Kelly

Samantha is the Founder and current President of FIERCE Athlete Inc. She played Division 1 Soccer at UConn, and is currently involved in competitive rowing. She has spent the last 8 years working for Catholic nonprofits and outreaching to female athletes. She recently graduated with a Masters in Catholic Psychology and is currently pursuing Certification in Strength & Conditioning and Theology of the Body. It was actually through the teachings of Theology of the Body and the Catholic Church that she has discovered what it means to be both feminine and athletic. These teachings have the power to heal and through FIERCE Athlete she desires to share those truths with female athletes across the world.

Samantha Kelley is a former Division 1 soccer player for UConn. After college she worked with student athletes for five years through FOCUS and Varsity Catholic. She currently holds a Masters in Catholic Psychology from Divine Mercy University and is pursuing Theology of the Body teaching Certification through the Theology of the Body Institute.

Samantha speaks nationally on topics of Sport, Femininity, Theology of the Body, Prayer, and any other topics that fit within the mission of FIERCE Athlete, Inc.

Mike Van Diest

Mike Van Diest is a football coach well known for winning six NAIA national championships and 14 Frontier Conference titles during his tenure as head coach at Carroll College in Helena, MT. He briefly retired in 2018, before coming back into the coaching ranks as an assistant at the University of Mary last season.

Thomas Wurtz

Thomas Wurtz is the founder of Varsity Catholic. He started college at the University of San Diego where he played a season of football and joined Phi Kappa Theta Fraternity. He transferred his sophomore year to Benedictine College where he played rugby to stay in shape and eventually graduated cum laude with a BS in Biology. It was while at Benedictine College that Thomas was exposed to FOCUS which was a major instrument in his conversion to the Christian life. He joined FOCUS staff in 2001 and served as a missionary and team director at Illinois State and as team director at Seton Hall. After two years as men’s formation coordinator and receiving his master’s degree from the Augustine Institute, he launched Varsity Catholic, a division of FOCUS reaching out to college athletes. He continues to serve as the director of Varsity Catholic (which has full-time staff working with 16 different athletic departments across the country) and resides with his family in Littleton, CO.

Andrew Swafford

Andrew Swafford is associate professor of theology at Benedictine College. He is general editor and contributor to The Great Adventure Catholic Bible published by Ascension Press and host of the DVD series (and author of the companion book) “Hebrews: The New and Eternal Covenant,” as well as author and host of “Romans: The Gospel of Salvation,” both published by Ascension. Andrew is author of “Nature and Grace; John Paul II to Aristotle and Back Again;” and “Spiritual Survival in the Modern World.” He holds a doctorate in sacred theology from the University of St. Mary of the Lake and a master’s degree in Old Testament & semitic languages from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He is member of the Society of Biblical Literature, Academy of Catholic Theology, and a senior fellow at the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology. He lives with his wife Sarah and their five children in Atchison, KS.

Vern Dosch

A longtime leader in technology, rural utility cooperatives and telecommunications providers, Vern Dosch coupled the spirit of cooperation, a commitment to rural America, and cutting-edge technology to help utilities and telecoms provide quality, affordable service to consumer-members. Under his leadership, National Information Solutions Cooperative (NISC) became a leading provider of IT and software solutions to utility and telecommunication cooperatives, helping its members become more efficient and improve customer service while setting the stage for economic expansion in rural America.

Roger Thomas

Roger Thomas is an accomplished coach and athletic administrator with a long history of excellence in the state of North Dakota.

After earning a bachelor's degree in physical education from Augustana College, Thomas went on to receive a master's degree from the University of South Dakota. His storied career began in 1969 as a football coach. After serving in a variety of coaching roles for numerous organizations, Thomas traveled to the University of North Dakota where he would embark on a 31-year journey in Division II athletics. In 1986, Thomas took over as head football coach at UND, where he led the Fighting Sioux to nine consecutive winning seasons, three consecutive North Central Conference titles and garnered Coach of the Year honors nine times. In 1999 his leadership transitioned him into administration, serving as UND's director of athletics for six years.
Under Thomas' leadership, UND captured two NCAA Division II titles and drastically expanded the athletics footprint. He oversaw the opening of the Ralph Engelstad Arena, the Betty Sioux Center and the Alerus Center, while providing a positive atmosphere for coaches and staying committed to the student-athlete's academic performance.

In 2008, he was named director of athletics at the University of Mary. During his tenure with the Marauders, Thomas led the transition from NAIA into Division II and the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference. Thomas also guided the Marauders to 34 NCAA championship appearances, 68 All-American honors, 10 NSIC titles and his staff brought home 11 Coach of the Year awards. Thomas expanded the UMary athletics brand by negotiating a new western North Dakota TV contract in order to promote UMary athletics and Marauders weekly features. He also oversaw the addition of swimming in 2016 and his last contribution to the University was a new state-of-the-art athletics fieldhouse. Thomas retired from his post at the University of Mary in June 2017.

If played as they should be, sports become... an ideal context for practicing many virtues.