Colorado Rapids

Celebrating Women's History Month | Ruth Fahy

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For Women's History Month, Kroenke Sports and Entertainment is highlighting some of the many women that make up the organization.

This is Ruth Fahy, Vice President of Club Administration and Compliance for the Colorado Rapids.

Q: Describe your journey to get to where you are today!
Ruth Fahy: It has been a varied, meandering one, for sure. But two genuine passions are probably consistent through the journey: a love for soccer; and a love for writing. And definitely just saying yes to things over and over, even when I was completely terrified!

I completed a law degree at the University of Limerick in 2011. UL because of a decent women’s soccer team and sporting facilities – and law, less for legal ambitions, and more for that love of writing and language analysis. The plan back then was actually to become a sports journalist. I took a year out before my final year to take up a soccer scholarship in the US. I loved the experience; how professional the environment was, and I always wanted to return at some point in the future. My final year thesis was on Title IX. I always wondered why we couldn’t implement something similar in Ireland.

After graduation, I couldn’t decide on which way to go... unfortunately wanting to do everything! I worked briefly in project management before moving to Auckland, New Zealand where I worked as a personal trainer. It was too far from home for me, and the next step was sports law study at Nottingham Trent University in the UK. After another brief travel stint, I landed back in Galway where our local team had just entered the newly formed Women’s League of Ireland (LOI), and I combined playing with work in business operations. Around that time, I was hooked on performance science and the whole area of performance nutrition, and I took a brief wander into that world as a student of dietetics and human nutrition at DIT. I loved the course but didn’t see myself forging a career in the area, so I moved south to take up an internship in sports development with Cork Local Sports Partnership. At that point, I was playing with another LOI team, Wexford Youths, completing 5-hour round trips for training. It was all worth it!

While I played, I wrote a weekly column with the Irish Daily Mirror, where I was given the liberty to write about all things women’s soccer in Ireland. I always tried to use my voice honestly and authentically, even when it was difficult. I had grown pretty fatigued by all the new adventures at that point, and so made the decision to qualify as a solicitor and put my degree to use. I was lucky to get diverse experience while studying for exams, including in a busy general practice firm and, after that, in the legal department of our national football governing body, the FAI. I completed my three-year formal legal training with William Fry, which was intense but worthwhile. Soccer was finally forced to come second after I sustained an ACL injury around this time.

After I finished playing, I stayed involved with the game with media stints in TV and radio punditry and commentary, including commentary on the Women’s World Cup 2019. I was probably just fortunate with the timing here, as the big-time players were still playing and so were unavailable, and so I filled a gap during a time when a female voice was needed during a breakthrough broadcast period for women’s soccer in Ireland. Imposter syndrome was justified, and I honestly found these media gigs really stressful. I also found it difficult to be misconstrued or prejudged but learned that this is a cost that simply must be accepted. I learned so much from this time and the experience left me with a lifelong compassion for those brave enough to share their sporting opinions on air, along with a decent reference point for future challenges.

After qualifying as a solicitor, I took some time out and even returned to playing LOI soccer with my home club. I was approached at that time by the Club to take on a CEO role. This was a fantastic learning experience, with critical lessons in culture. The role was not what was envisioned and so I returned to the legal world in 2022 to work as a sports lawyer with Ogier Leman, covering sports-related litigation and corporate matters, before accepting my current role with Colorado Rapids. Sports lawyer life was another tough one, but the skillsets gained as a practicing solicitor were probably the most valuable of my entire professional career and I lean on these daily in my work with the Rapids.

Q: Speaking of that, What does your day-to-day look like? 
RF: My day-to-day varies a lot. Where my responsibilities include ensuring Club compliance with federal and state law and sporting regulations, I am constantly researching, communicating with the League, and liaising with KSE legal and HR colleagues, along with outside counsel. I also oversee a fantastic team on the soccer operations side which includes our Director of Soccer Development, Director of Operations and Team Administration, Safe Sport Manager, and Player Liaison Officer. Days comprise lots of meetings, conversations, and discussions with Club colleagues.

But the key part of my role is strategic and ensuring that the Club is evolving from an overall administrative perspective in our practices, processes, and policies. Where last season was consumed by familiarization with Club practices, this season will be about elevating these practices, and so this type of work will be highly collaborative and project-management based. I am very fortunate that I work with such a talented team who can drive the day-to-day soccer operations, allowing me to look forward as much as I can and provide support to our CBO and President with the Club’s strategic vision and ambitions.

Q: What do you enjoy the most about working in sports? What’s your favorite part of your role, specifically?
RF: I find soccer clubs absolutely fascinating. I recently heard someone say that “Every club has soul.” That soul is created through the history and culture of the club and the practices and behaviors that permeate the day-to-day. A soccer club with a healthy soul can have so much positive impact on its players, staff, and fans; also, socially and community-wide. I love working in a space that seeks to create this. The infrastructure of a club is complex and challenging but not unmanageable and if built upon core values that are truly shared by its members, can produce sizeable outcomes.

One of my favorite parts of this role is working with talented people all around the Club who have a deep love for soccer. I also love the fact that our work is (distantly but connectedly) tied to human performance and athletic mastery. One of the biggest privileges is being involved in creating support structures for elite players to help maximize their potential both on and off the field. These support structures are something I wish I had as a player.

Q: Do you have a role model or someone who inspired you in your journey to working in sports?
RF: Back in Ireland, Sarah Keane has completed incredible work with both Swim Ireland and the Olympic Federation of Ireland. Closer to home, what Yael Averbuch West has achieved with Gotham FC has been nothing short of phenomenal.

But what I am most excited about this year is watching the impact that Emma Hayes will have on the USWNT. For me, Emma is the ultimate role model; strong but compassionate and affects not just her team but also the game as a whole, having advocated for years for improvements to the women’s game in the UK and globally. And yes, I am ecstatic that her first game with the USWNT is very fittingly at Dicks Sporting Goods Park on June 1st!

Q: What’s your best piece of advice to other women looking to work in sports?
RF: I’ll never forget the three values that our University President shared at our graduation: honesty, integrity, and hard work. It’s hard to go too far wrong if these are used as a guiding tool. I think this applies to life and work in general.

I would also advise that, as a woman in sports, you are going to experience stressful and challenging situations. These can be navigated by seeking support from the right people and remembering that each challenge will ultimately make you better.

Speaking up when needed is critical. Nothing changes without awareness. If speaking up comes with backlash, that is a great redirection tool.

Finally, take a lot of care with your big decisions and always do your research.

I probably have a lot more! I’m learning all the time.

Q: As a woman working in sports, what was your biggest challenge? And how did you overcome it?
RF: I worked in a space recently where the biggest challenge was being isolated and outnumbered in a mission for necessary culture change. I overcame it by exiting. Culture change takes mass buy-in and a lot of time. It is never possible alone.

Q: What does it mean to you to be a woman in sports?
RF: To be completely honest, with the Rapids, I mostly forget that I am a “woman in sports.” I am just “in sports!” I am so fortunate that I work with open-minded and respectful colleagues in a culture that genuinely celebrates diversity. It’s a brilliant place to work.

Q: As the woman in sports you are now, what would you tell your younger self entering the field?
RF: Be prepared for extreme highs and extreme lows. Both are temporary, so roll with it. Nothing comes before family. And don’t forget to have fun, that’s what led you here in the first place!

Q: How do you decompress when you’re not working? Hobbies that you enjoy?
RF: My favorite hobby of all time is walking my dog, Miles, with a good coffee in hand, in a blue or green space. I live beside a beautiful river in downtown Denver and get to walk every morning with Miles under a big blue sky (a rarity in Ireland!).

Other than that, I still love to play any sport, read, run, and swim, and I will happily participate in any adrenaline-raising outdoor or water-based activity!