The wind wasn't kind to Mo Isom during her tryout with the LSU football team Tuesday, but it didn't spoil her debut as the first female to attempt to play major collegiate football since 2003.
Isom, a goalkeeper on the LSU soccer team from 2008-11, said she had some kickoffs between the 5-yard line and the goal line, but hopes for better conditions when tryouts resume Thursday. Regardless of the weather, LSU coach Les Miles took note of his potential new kicker.
"This was really a bad day for anybody to kick because the wind was just so strong," Miles said. "But obviously she's got ball skills. She's been around it."
Isom, who also was last year's homecoming queen, kicked a 51-yard field goal last August while working out on her own with LSU punter Brad Wing. In 2008, she became the first LSU soccer player to score a 90-yard goal after she boomed a free kick that bounced at the top of the 18-yard box and over the BYU goalkeeper. When the video hit YouTube, Isom's legend grew, but she said her attempt to join the LSU football team isn't about seeking more publicity.
"People's first presumption about this is that it's a media stunt or some attempt for attention and glory," Isom told Gannett. "That couldn't be any further from the truth. I feel it was a goal God placed in my heart. It's just something I want to do."
In 2003, Katie Hnida kicked two extra points while playing for New Mexico to be the first female to score in a major collegiate game. However, her presence on the team wasn't always welcome. As a member of Colorado — her first school before transferring to New Mexico — Hnida alleged she was raped by a teammate but never told the police. The allegations irked coach Gary Barnett so much that it caused him to give a harsh portrayal of Hnida's ability.
"It was obvious Katie was not very good," Barnett said. "She was awful. You know what guys do? They respect your ability. You can be 90 years old, but if you can go out and play, they'll respect you. Katie was not only a girl, she was terrible. OK? There's no other way to say it."
Since then, females haven't exactly been beating down the doors to join many football teams, but Isom, who has one year of eligibility remaining, is good enough that she could change that. Miles said that the final decision on whether she makes the team probably wouldn't be determined until August.
"I would have no reservations playing her," Miles said. "If she gave us an opportunity and an advantage, and I mean add an advantage, then certainly we would consider that. The good thing about it is she's an athlete. She's been through team before. She understands the commitment. I would have much less reservation with her than I would any number of other people that frankly didn't know what they were getting into. But the real interesting thing is it has to be an advantage obtained."
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- Katie Hnida