A former bone-crushing fullback in a women’s professional league is set to take her final vows in Ohio later this month to become a Franciscan nun.
Sister Rita Clare Yoches was known as Anne Yoches when she played for the Detroit Demolition of the now-defunct National Women’s Football Association 10 years ago, and before that she was a basketball point guard at Detroit Mercy.
Now, she’s just days away from continuing her religious journey, the Detroit Free Press reported Thursday.
Yoches, 38, received a basketball scholarship to Detroit Mercy and played on the team from 1997 to 2001. She told the Free Press that she really wanted to be on the TV show “American Gladiators” and thought that professional football was close enough and always wondered why women couldn’t play the sport.
She played fullback for the Demolition until 2007. Her coaches and teammates described her as a “physical” player who was akin to an NFL fullback.
However, Yoches said she had a religious experience in March 2007 while praying for someone else. She said that’s when she knew she had to dedicate herself to God.
“I lived a crazy wild party life before I converted,” Yoches said. “I kept my faith to myself before all of this, so people were very surprised that this was really who and what I wanted to do and be.”
"I kept my faith to myself before all of this, so people were very surprised that this was really who and what I wanted to do and be."
Yoches broke up with her boyfriend the night of her religious experience. She told her family and then her friends and co-workers, who were surprised by the decision.
Yoches is set to take her vows June 30 in Toronto, Ohio, for her first eight years. Though there were some doubts in the beginning, she told the newspaper that they’re mostly gone now.
She combines her sporting life with her present religious calling, organizing two-hand touch football every Thanksgiving as well as basketball tournaments, according to the Free Press.
“It’s just a part of the beautiful journey that God has us all on,” Yoches said. “I really do believe the Lord used everything and has led me to where I was and where I was supposed to be at each moment to make me into who I was meant to be.”