Female Kicker Breaks Barriers with God's Playbook

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For more than 100 years, football has been a man's game. But at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, Mo Isom wanted to change that tradition.

She aspired to be a place kicker for one of the top college football programs in the country.

"Seventeen months of 'two-a-days.' Tears and sweat and blood and all the above," she said, recalling some of her first practices. "And if I had stopped any sooner, I would be kicking myself, pun fully intended."

Natural Athlete, Struggling Soul

Isom showed athletic ability at a young age. At 12 she was training with 19 -year-old soccer players. After she grew seven inches in one year, her 6-foot stature made her a force to contend with.

"I certainly understood the importance of hard work because, yes, things kind of fell into my lap, but I could only keep them there if I worked hard to maintain them," she explained.

By high school, Isom was scouted by major universities and the national women's soccer team. She was also modeling, and that career was booming.

But while Isom's height made her a presence on the soccer field, with classmates she felt out of place.

"I was a giant. I was the huge girl," she said. "I had to bear those comments on a daily basis in high school and all I wanted was to fit in."

She said she soon developed an eating disorder that "almost destroyed my life."

Isom's passion for soccer was all that kept her from starving herself. She needed fuel to play so diet pills and supplements filled in for food.

Turning Point

Raised in a Christian home, Isom said she felt guilty over what she'd been doing to her body. By her senior year, she made up her mind to change.

"[I was] really empty, physically, emotionally, spiritually empty. I went to the Lord in prayer about it and scripture tells us, 'Come to me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest,'" Isom said.

"And I just opened my heart back up to what I knew, to the Lord," Isom continued. "And immediately [I] was filled with this courage to come clean with my mom, my dad, my family about what I had been doing."

She then got counseling and regained her health. When Isom arrived at LSU on a full scholarship, she had a record-setting year and was hailed as one of the premiere rookie goal keepers in the country.

"At the end of that freshman season I felt invincible, untouchable. I thought if this is what it means to be a Christian, this is great," Isom said. "Because it was raining down the blessing and successes and it was smooth sailing."

But her life has been a series of highs and lows -- and a new low was coming.

On Jan. 3, 2009, Isom's father, one of her biggest supporters, committed suicide.

"The moment the three police officers walked into the room my mom, sister and I were in and told us they had found my dad's remains, the world froze," Isom recalled.

"It didn't make sense. And I felt so betrayed by this God everybody tells me loves us so much and now my heart is broken," she added. "I didn't feel anything, and so I took off running. I wanted nothing to do with God.

'If You're So Real, Prove It!'

Isom became a party girl and pretended everything was fine.

"I had come to my breaking point. It had been almost a year since I lost my father. And I was exhausted, I was worn out," she said.

In the car on her way home to Georgia for Thanksgiving, Isom said she started yelling at God.

"I was so mad. I said, 'You know what? I don't believe You love me the way You say You love me.' And I said, 'If you're so real, prove it!'

Isom then lost control of the car.

"I flipped my car three times, wrapped it around a tree, just ripped the front and engine clean off," she said. "And I find myself hanging upside down in my seat belt in a ravine at 1:30 in the morning nobody around. I woke up choking on my own blood."

Isom had an encounter with God.

"I believe it was that moment that I accepted that God was real and his Son was real in my heart, and I got it," she said.

The injuries landed her in the hospital. She broke her neck and ribs as well as damaged her lungs, liver, and face.

"Most severely, I had brain contusions and that left me with an unbelievable stutter," Isom told CBN.

From Soccer to Football

She recovered after extensive rehabilitation and finished her four years on the women's soccer team as the most decorated goalkeeper in the history of LSU.

"I look back now, and without God's hand on that recovery, I would have never been able to return to soccer. This football would have been impossible," she said.

Isom enrolled in graduate school to maintain her eligibility to train with the LSU football team.

Many asked why she wanted to try out as a kicker for the men's team.

"I don't tell people this, but God told me to build my platform for Him," she explained.

She was unsure of how the football team would accept her trying out, but said she was welcomed openly.

Thursday was the last day of tryouts.  Isom should know soon whether she'll join the LSU Tigers when they take the field this fall.

Either way, she said she still trusts the One who writes the playbook.

"God overwhelmed my heart, and it's been this lifetime of ups and downs. But I wouldn't change a day of it," Isom said. "Because it's provided me the opportunity to not only grow as a person but to shine the light and hope and joy to others through my experiences."

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