Now, college football will be the challenge Isom will tackle as she begins her quest to make the LSU football team as a walk-on kicker and become the school’s first female football player.
Having recently completed her four-year soccer career at LSU, Isom is currently taking part in tryouts for a spot on the Tigers’ football roster.
“I am very excited about this opportunity,” Isom said in a phone interview from Baton Rouge, La. “I really respect the football program that we have here at LSU and I’m excited about the possibility of being a part of it.”
Isom is also beginning to draw national attention. According to LSU athletic spokesman Michael Bonnette, the university has fielded interview requests from ESPN, USA Today, “Fox and Friends” and “Good Morning America” — all wanting to talk to the hopeful soccer-turned-football player. On Tuesday, Isom’s quest was included as a topic of debate on ESPN’s “Pardon the Interruption.”
Isom, who graduated in December with a degree in broadcast journalism and is currently attending graduate school, still has a fifth year of athletic eligibility remaining at LSU that she could apply toward football.
If Isom does beat the odds by making the football team, she would be the first female kicker on a major-college team since 2003, when Katie Hnida kicked two extra points for New Mexico in a rout of Texas State.
Tryouts for walk-ons began Tuesday, with at least one more round scheduled for today.
Mother Nature got things off to a difficult start on the first day of tryouts, as heavy winds wreaked havoc on the kicks of Isom and the other kickers trying out for the team.
“It was all right,” said Isom of the first day of tryouts. “It was incredibly windy, and it was tough to kick field goals, but I was able to get some solid kickoffs. I did a lot better on the kickoffs. Hopefully, it won’t be quite as windy (today).”
Though LSU football coach Les Miles wouldn’t go as far as to say that Isom stands a chance at making the team, he understands the athletic pedigree the 6-foot Isom brings to the table
“The good thing about it is she’s an athlete,” Miles told The Times-Picayune newspaper of New Orleans. “She’s been through the routine before. She understands the commitment. I would have much less reservations with her than I would any other number of people that frankly didn’t know what they were getting in to.”
It was January of last year when Isom began to contemplate the idea of playing college football.
Wanting to follow the footsteps of her late father John, who played college football at Carson-Newman in the 1970’s, was part of the motivation for Isom.
“In one regard, my father passed away in 2009, and he played college football at Carson-Newman, and it would mean so much to my heart to suit up on a Saturday night like my dad did,” Isom said. “It was also a goal that God placed in my heart. I wasn’t sure about it when I first got the idea, but the feeling in my heart was so strong that I just felt like this was something that I should do.”
After conferring with, and getting positive feedback, from LSU players and coaches, Isom began preparing for her quest to make the football team as she began working on her kicking skills, both alone and with LSU team members.
She worked on her football kicking five days a week during the spring and summer of 2011, cutting back to two to three days a week during her final soccer season. She then resumed a full workout schedule after the soccer season ended in November.
Isom said she has come a long way in the development of her football kicking skills.
“I have gotten so much better,” said Isom, who was named LSU’s homecoming queen in November. “At first, I thought that, since I was a soccer player, it would be the same technique in kicking a football, but that’s not the case. I have learned so much about the technique involved in kicking a football. The guys on the team have really helped me a lot, and they have been so supportive.”
Isom finished her soccer career at LSU last fall, posting a 1.07 goals-against average and helping lead the Tigers to the West Division title in the Southeastern Conference.
Her distance as a kicker is well-known after she became the first goalkeeper in team history to score a goal. As a freshman in 2008, she scored on a 90-yard free kick against BYU, which made the daily list of top 10 plays on ESPN’s “SportsCenter.”