Kelly Thornton ’19 knows Jesus loves sports. The Illinois native always envisioned him in the stands, cheering her on.
It wasn’t until the summer after her freshman year that Kelly realized Jesus wasn’t only her biggest fan—he was playing right alongside her.
“It became a daddy-daughter thing, doing something we both love. I wasn’t doing it for him, but with him,” says Kelly, who played volleyball, basketball, and softball her freshman and sophomore years at Wheaton, dropping basketball her junior year.
A third generation Wheatie, Kelly played infield her freshman year with her sister, Katie Thornton ’18, who pitched.
At the time, Kelly felt she was surrounded by “people who are smarter and prettier,” and she began to struggle with her identity. But her involvement with sports helped her realize her performance did not define her.
“I can see and affirm the good in other people without thinking less of myself and who I am in the Lord,” she says.
Her ultimate identity? As a daughter of the king.
During Kelly’s junior year, her softball teammates named her team captain, and her batting average of .458 won her recognition as the 2017 CCIW batting champion.
“As a coach, you could not ask for more,” says Coach Ellen Radandt-Stremler, who calls Kelly a leader who is consistently the first to practice and the last to lease. “Having your best player be your hardest worker changes a program.”
Double majoring in math and secondary education, Kelly hopes to one day become a high school teacher, encouraging girls who might also struggle with identity.
“Having that kind of platform fires me up,” says Kelly. “My dream job is to teach them where their worth comes from.”
To watch the Wheaton Thunder compete live in HD online, visit athletics.wheaton.edu