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Two Professional Athletes To Become Full-time Missionaries With Varsity Catholic

Women bring professional basketball, leadership experience from WNBA and European leagues to Catholic mission

DENVER, Feb. 13, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Varsity Catholic, a division of FOCUS, The Fellowship of Catholic University Students, has announced that professional basketball players Jennifer Risper and Christina Wirth, have committed to join Varsity Catholic staff as missionaries after their contracts with the Romanian professional women's basketball team expire in May 2013. Risper and Wirth, former teammates at Vanderbilt University, have also played for the Portuguese and Slovakian basketball teams. Both were selected in the 2009 WNBA draft with Wirth having played for the Indiana Fever that year.

"We are excited to have Jennifer and Christina join us," said Thomas Wurtz, Director of Varsity Catholic. "They add a new and fresh perspective on serving the world of sport."

Varsity Catholic was formed in 2007 to reach out to varsity athletes on college campuses, and currently has 12 missionaries serving full-time on eight campuses, with outreach efforts in place at an additional 12 campuses. Risper and Wirth will be the first professional athletes to join Varsity Catholic staff.

"I realized that God wanted to use me through sports. I have a platform – I've been successful through God's grace. I had to be honest with myself and ask, 'Do you think you'll be able to impact other athletes?'" said Risper. "And I feel that I really think I can, and I want to."

"The way that our culture looks at athletes, there's a lot of pressure and expectation, but there's also a platform for athletes that can be used to spread the Gospel," said Wirth. "I think it's important for those athletes who want to expand their faith to have an influence in their lives that can help them grow personally, but also to show them what a great opportunity they have to lead other people to Christ."

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