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Candice Fabry

A Few Minutes With Candice Fabry

AHS media relations specialist Vince Lara speaks with Candice Fabry, an RST alum who was recently named associate head coach of the United Women's Soccer League's KC Courage.

Click here to see the full transcript.

VINCE LARA: Hi, and welcome to another edition of A Few Minutes With, the podcast that showcases Illinois' College of Applied Health Sciences. I'm Vince Lara, and today I'm speaking with Candice Fabry, an RST alum who was recently named associate head coach of the United Women's Soccer League's KC Courage.

All right, on this edition of A Few Minutes With, I'm talking with Candice Fabry, who is an RST alum. And Candice, or coach, I might call you, at what age did you start to play soccer?

CANDICE FABRY: I actually started at the age of four. And that was only because I was signed up for ballet, and apparently it's a little naughty, I guess, was that I couldn't do ballet because apparently I really wanted to do that. And I don't know. I was the first born, so as a mother now, all the decisions I made with the first child maybe aren't the ones I made with the second and third. But in my mom kind of guilt that I wasn't doing something, the only thing that had a spot left was soccer, and so that's where I joined and started to play.

VINCE LARA: So no one in your family had played previously? There wasn't like your dad had played, or your mom had played, or your brother or anything like that?

CANDICE FABRY: Nobody. I was really that first kind of generation and went through it. And I guess the first season I played, I didn't touch the ball at all except for once because it rolled and hit me. And then after that, I guess I was on an all-boys team. I remember seeing the pictures and really starting to get excited about it and wanting to play every season and keep returning.

So my dad joked that if he knew how much money he would have had to eventually be putting into soccer for me to play club and so on in Chicago, maybe he would have kept me in ballet. But it was obviously a pretty early on love and something I really enjoyed doing. But, yeah, no one had a clue what to tell me what to do or how. Even if my dad thinks he did, he didn't.

So it was kind of that kind of freeing, kind of, I'm doing something no one else has done in our family. And it was exciting. It was cool. It was a really-- I think sport gives back so much. And I know the game of soccer has given me way more than I could ever be thankful for, so I definitely want to give back. That's one of my goals, lifelong goals, is to give back to the game that gave me so much.

VINCE LARA: So you kept playing through high school and into college, I imagine?

CANDICE FABRY: Yeah, so I was from Naperville. I played at Neuqua Valley and then was offered a scholarship to play at the University of Toledo in Ohio. So I played Division I. And that was-- it was a really exciting time, back in the day where the official calls on July 1 were a big deal when you were a senior and getting to Division I and so on and getting a handful of offers from a lot of Division I schools in the Midwest.

I knew I wanted to stay fairly close to home, but I did know I wanted to get out of Chicago. I still love Chicago, but I knew I wanted to venture out a little bit further. But landed in Ohio, and it was-- in Toledo, and it was a really good experience. And I say that from the point that actually, after my freshman year, I was diagnosed with a fracture in my lower back, so I went from playing every minute my freshman season to being medically registered at my sophomore year.

So learned a lot about coaching, learned a lot about myself, and really started from there knowing that this is going to be more than just me hanging up my cleats after four years and moving on with my life and leaving soccer behind. I knew that I probably wasn't done, even if my body was starting to give out and saying, you're physically done playing the game. But there was definitely that insight into coaching that started to really trigger me to go, this could be something more for the rest of my life. So--

VINCE LARA: Right. Yeah. I was going to ask you. The next question was, when did you discover you wanted to make it a career? And you just answered that. But coaching rather than playing, you didn't see a future for playing as much as you-- or did you just enjoy coaching that much more?

CANDICE FABRY: I had started coaching when I was young. I coached my sister's 3v3 teams. I would help at camps at local clubs. And so coaching was always something I was doing, whether I really knew it or not. So when I was injured and the injury was-- it was enough to start going, playing is going to be done soon. It's just too painful.

So I was the captain in high school. I was the captain in college. That leadership that I can impact a group of people towards a goal, towards winning, towards having success, that was really personally satisfying. And that intrinsic motivation started to say, I think I want to go into coaching. And so when I knew I was done playing, I went right into my coaching license and education courses and was pretty much taking that every year, the next higher level license, until I had my first child.

But that was definitely on the road. And then in that point, I knew as well that coaching was something I was doing. But I also was doing all these other beautiful things around the game that I knew I was impacting what was happening on the field and off the field for a bunch of kids and young adults. So that was just something that was, again, that satisfaction of knowing that soccer actually was going to be a lifelong passion for me.

VINCE LARA: In addition to your passion for soccer, you also are the founder and owner of Fearless and Capable. And I'm wondering, can you tell me a little bit about Fearless and Capable and what's the inspiration? And also how do people find out more about your organization?

CANDICE FABRY: Yeah, so it's just starting off. We're just taking this off, and it's a mentorship program for women who are wanting to be in sport-oriented careers. Just knowing that a lot of times, I was isolated where I was at in my career. So either that was by geography or by the position I held. I was one of few or the only woman in a lot of scenarios. And wanting to encourage more females to look at sport career fields, and coaching definitely being one of them, but also these other amazing roles that can surround a game and really give back that fulfilled maybe another passion, whether it's numbers and accounting.

Well, be an accountant that supports a women's professional team. Finding those ways that you get CFOs and women in leadership positions. So what I've done is kind of scoured the country, within my own network and my extended network, to find women that want to fulfill the role of mentor, support them in their role as mentors. And knowing that a program can be set up and is being set up-- we're going to pilot it this spring-- that's going to combine structure and events, and it's going to provide self-paced curriculum that these young women can start to navigate their potential careers and what they want professionally and personally.

So it's a real full mentorship program that's trying to invest in women specific to sport careers and trying to give them an opportunity to come into the career field with support and the honesty of what they could come into and the network they should look into. So, yeah, we're launching this this spring with a pilot program. And more information can be found at

VINCE LARA: That's great. Yeah, I was going to ask you where to contact you, so terrific. Now, part of the reason why I'm having you on is because you were recently named the associate coach for the Kansas City Courage of the United Women's Soccer League. And so tell me about United Women's Soccer. I don't know much about it. Is that a fairly new league?

CANDICE FABRY: We were formed in 2015, and it's a second division pro am league for women. So really that second professional league that's an opportunity for current, former college players that are still playing, perhaps want to play in the NWSL at some point in time. So it's fairly new but not absolutely brand spanking new.

But it's definitely what I think is such an opportunity for so many women to continue that ability to play and play competitively. I know that was something, when I was growing up, you had the Women's National team that you saw and you heard of, but there was nothing else. That was something-- I could only imagine that, oh, I could make the national team, or I don't know if I'm playing. That was just what I thought was possible.

And so knowing this league exists and NWSL exists, there is now a path. There is now a vision for young girls and women to say, I don't have to be done playing, or I don't have to just make the national team in order to continue playing. I can play professionally. I can find that competitive edge that I still desire past the age of 21, 22.

VINCE LARA: Are there any Illinois players on the team? Since you went to Illinois, I wonder if you are recruiting.

CANDICE FABRY: The rosters are still being formed, so that'll get all finalized the next few weeks. But definitely looking for players that are committed to growing personally on and off the field this summer and in any future summers. So geography is something that isn't a limitation. It's definitely an opportunity that we would love to embrace if anyone's looking for it. So definitely reach out if you've got interest.

VINCE LARA: Now, you did your undergrad at Toledo. So what led you to Illinois for grad school? Was it your Chicago roots, your familiarity with the school and the region?

CANDICE FABRY: Yeah. I obviously was familiar with the school, living in Chicago, and obviously the reputation for it, and had a lot of friends that did undergrad there. But really it came to I was kind of doing some self-reflection. I had had my son, who is now 10, to be 11 this summer.

So I'd had him. There was a little bit of going, OK, how do I coach and be a mom? So go back to why this mentorship is another thing I'm interested in is, I didn't have very many women to talk to about how do I do both, care for my kid and be that, and then also be this coach at evenings and weekends and so on?

And so I was trying to figure out how my career and my professional and personal goals could start to evolve and knew that I was taking more on in terms of programming, in terms of the business side of managing youth clubs and managing bigger programs and so on. So when I was thinking about what could be a next step and looking around the people I knew and the mentors I had, I know I needed some more guidance and some more knowledge as it related to management and business and an overview as it related to sports and recreation.

And so I started looking at numerous schools, and specifically online. Because it's like I said. I had a child. At that point, I was living in Des Moines, Iowa, and just wanted something that had some flexibility because I knew I needed to work and then take care of my family. And the reputation of the University of Illinois and the people that I had spoken to that had gone through the program had nothing but positives to say. And so it was just kind of that perfect, OK, this is comfortable but uncomfortable, which is-- I love saying you've got to get comfortable being uncomfortable.

But it was that good mix for me of familiarity and then the unknown of what I was about to embark on. But the admissions team and everybody-- because I had been out of school for a few years. I should have gone and got my master's right away, but I didn't. I had waited a few years. And they were really great in the whole process of answering my questions and making me feel like I was making a really good choice for me.

VINCE LARA: Is there an RST instructor that stands out for you?

CANDICE FABRY: This is hard because the second chapter-- I'm in the program, and then I'm pregnant with my second child, my daughter, who's now seven. And I don't want to pick one of them because they were all really impactful on the education side, and they were fantastic as me being a mother and being pregnant and working alongside of me. There's definitely some that stick out, but just the support they all gave and then the cohort and everyone that was there.

I do want to give a special shout out to Tim Tiger as the advisor. He literally helped me and felt like I knew what the heck I was doing at every turn and had all the answers to my questions. So literally I cannot say a negative thing about the experience with just smartest professors who were supportive and there to answer questions and making sure you were understanding challenging you and succeeding. And then having an advisor that was so knowledgeable and supportive and guiding, it was just the perfect mix where I had all these personal things that could have derailed me and said maybe it's not time, or maybe I need to take a break. And I never felt that. And that's a huge kudos to the team, the people that work in that program.

VINCE LARA: Now, I know soccer took a hold of you early on. I mean, four years old. But if you weren't in the soccer game, what career do you think you might have found yourself in?

CANDICE FABRY: It would have to do with sport. There's no way that it would have nothing to do with sport. I could see me within a physical education within a high school program or working within a recreation program that was just giving back to sport. Because I just believe in how great it is as an activity and whether you're an individual or a group.

And it's funny because my son is definitely more the individual sport kid. He's into karate, skateboarding. The team sports are not his gig. But my daughter, she's good with that. So it's just that evolution of what it gives to you in both socially and mentally and emotionally, as well as physically. I'm just a huge advocate.

So I could see myself helping and guiding kids within physical education or setting up sports programs within a recreation program or a YMCA, for instance. But I'm not leaving sport any time soon. I did that for a little, little bit, just kind of going, maybe I need this for my family. And I was miserable when it had nothing to do with sport.

I know I'm a better mom. I'm a better friend. I'm a better family, sister, daughter, all of it when I know my career is giving back to sport, and especially soccer. I'm much better in my head to be able to be a happy person.


VINCE LARA: My thanks to Candice Fabry. For more podcasts on Illinois' College of Applied Health Sciences, search A Few Minutes With on iTunes, Spotify, iHeartRadio,, and other places you get your podcast fix. Thanks for listening, and see you next time.

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