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Story Archives: LSU's Isom sets high goals
|LSU's Isom sets high goals|
By Jake Martin
Through faith and perseverance, Mo Isom has overcome the harsh realities of life, and in the next few weeks, she will try to overcome the perceptions of football.
The former LSU goalkeeper will use her fifth year of eligibility to suit up in pads for spring training in hopes of landing a spot on the Tiger football team as a field goal kicker. But after everything that Isom has had to endure in the past two-and-a-half years of her life, this challenge seems minuscule.
Faced with a serious eating disorder that began in high school, the death of her beloved father and a near-death experience that left Isom hanging by her seatbelt, the 6-foot soccer All-American had to rise above steep challenges in her life.
The idea to join the football team came to Isom in January 2011 when God laid it on her heart. The Marietta, Ga., native admitted that she was initially "hesitant" because she knew she'd be opening herself up to a lot of criticism, judgment and vulnerability.
"I really felt challenged by God to continue to be exceptional," Isom said. "I personally believe that we are each very uniquely, individually, wonderfully made, and the last thing I ever want in this life is to blend in, to be normal."
And normal is exactly what Isom's successful career at LSU was not. As the team's goalkeeper, she booted a 90-yard goal-to-goal strike against Brigham Young her freshman season, which landed on ESPN's Sports Center.
After receiving so much buzz as a freshman in 2008 with several awards and landing on the Soccer Buzz Third-Team Freshman All-American, her world came crashing down on Jan. 2, 2009 when she received the news that her father had committed suicide.
Which in itself is another reason why Isom wants to play football.
"I think there's a big part of my heart that wants to pursue this because I want to hold on to a connection that I shared with my dad for so long," said Isom, who shared her story at First Baptist Church Vidalia on February 22. "And certainly being able to suit up like my dad suited up in college would be a great way to hold on to that connection and that energy."
That connection and energy that Isom talks about is the sort of energy that was displayed by her father in the crowd when she nailed the 90-yard goal. Over everyone going crazy in the LSU Soccer Stadium, Isom said that she could hear her father's roar above everyone else.
With her father and heavenly father in mind, Isom took to the field to work on her kicking, and she received a blessing from LSU head coach Les Miles at the beginning of 2011. Isom wanted to make sure the coaches would be comfortable with her decision before she put that powerful leg of hers to work, and Miles and his staff assured her that she would be treated like all the other guys.
Through all of her hard work and training, Isom's longest field goal is a 51-yarder while working out on her own, and the furthest kickoff landed on the 2-yard line.
While outside perception might believe what Isom's doing is a big deal for women across the nation, Isom sees it as another way to get her story to the masses and inspire those who struggle in unfortunate circumstances.
"I won't be so naive to say that I don't recognize there is a tension that will come for what I'm doing, and in my eyes, that is a great opportunity to inspire people. To take a platform and proclaim God's name," Isom said.
Though Isom's love of God is brightly portrayed by her infectious smile and soft-spoken demeanor, her relationship with Him went through rocky times.
Following her father's death, Isom felt scorned, broken and out of place in her walk with the Lord. And it wasn't until Nov. 25, 2009, that God grabbed Isom's attention, and it came at 1:30 in the morning on her trip back home to Georgia for the holidays.
Isom lost control of her jeep, flipped it three times and landed upside down around a tree in a ravine.
"I remember waking up hanging upside down, literally vomiting blood and choking on it because I was upside down," Isom said.
Isom broke her neck and all of her ribs, while damaging her lungs, face and brain.
"In that moment of complete vulnerability and complete fear, I've never been more comforted and more fearless," Isom said. "I just felt wrapped in the arms of the Holy Spirit like God just took back the reigns of my life. That was the night that the Lord saved my life."
According to Isom, the Lord had to flip her life upside down, and that's literally what happened. As Isom hung upside down, there was one phrase that she kept repeating and that was, "God is beautiful." She went on to say that the Lord took her to her breaking point but didn't let her get destroyed.
Since that near-death experience, Isom has had a spectacular soccer career, became LSU's homecoming queen last November and with spring ball underway will try her hand at placekicking for the Tigers.
"I realize that this will be a huge challenge that I might not even achieve, but I wanted to give everything I have and try my hardest to do something exceptional," she said.
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