Mo Isom will soon add two more firsts to her resume.
The former Louisiana State University soccer player will be the first woman athlete and first soccer player to speak at the Bill Buckner Luncheon on April 26.
The event is the largest fundraiser for the Mississippi Fellowship of Christian Athletes. The event is held annually at First Baptist Church of Jackson and draws hundreds of athletes, coaches and sports enthusiasts from around the state.
“She’s the first female and first soccer player we’ve had,” Mississippi FCA Director Bill Buckley said.
Buckley said Isom was a perfect fit for the theme for this year’s lunch, “It’s Time.”
“Her story is so incredible. She came out of brokenness and messed up living … went through an eating disorder and one day made up her mind, ‘I can’t live like this. My life is worth more than this.’”
Isom will also represent FCA’s new efforts to reach out to soccer and community sports players, groups that are often overlooked in football-focused Mississippi.
“There are almost 90 million athletes in the United States, 70 percent of them are community sports athletes. That’s a huge group of athletes we haven’t been reaching,” he said.
Community sports include youth basketball, baseball, softball and soccer.
“We thought with Mo, it would be a great opportunity to introduce those athletes to who we are and got after community sports,” he said.
On April 25, soccer coaches from around the metro area will be invited to an invitation-only rally at Jackson Preparatory School, where students and coaches will have an opportunity to meet Isom, he said.
Bringing in Isom is also important, as the number of female athletes in Mississippi continues to grow.
“For Mississippi, for the first year ever, in 2018, there were more female athletes than male,” Buckley said.
According to last year’s figures, women and girls comprised 52 percent of the total number of athletes in the state.
“That has to do with community sports,” he said. “In the last several years soccer has really grown in our state. That has to do with community sports as well.”
About 650 people are expected to attend this year’s luncheon, according to Mississippi FCA Administrative Assistant Jess Winters.
The event will also honor athletes, a coach and volunteer with Bill Buckner Impact Awards, given to individuals who make an impact for Christ on their teams.
The luncheon is known for drawing top speakers. Last year, the keynote was delivered by baseball legend Darryl Strawberry. Previous speakers include retired pro and college football coaches Tommy Bowden and Bill Curry.
FCA begins searching for a speaker several months in advance.
Isom is a New York Times bestselling author and nationally sought-after speaker. She was an All-American goalkeeper for the LSU women’s soccer team and the first female to train with and try out for an SEC football team, according to an FCA news release.
“Mo’s life was riddled with great personal tragedy – including battling an eating disorder, overcoming the suicide of her father, struggling with promiscuity and surviving a horrific car accident,” the release goes on to state. “But by the grace of God alone, she encountered the love and mercy of Jesus.”
The lunch is named after former State Director Bill Buckner, who passed away in 2014. Buckner led the organization for 27 years.
For more information, log onto Mississippifca.org.