Last August, Sister Mary Jo Sobieck of the Dominican Sisters of Springfield donned her Marian Catholic jersey and took the mound to throw out the ceremonial first pitch. There before a crowd at Guaranteed Rate Field, home of the Chicago White Sox, Sister Sobieck threw out a monster of a curve ball that captured the attention of baseball fans everywhere, as it went viral.
Now, Sister Sobieck is being formally honored for her outstanding performance with an ESPY, ESPN’s annual award, which stands for Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly. She is in consideration for the Best Viral Moment category.
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In an interview with Religion News Service, Sister Mary Jo called the experience “surreal.” She explained that she has always been passionate about sports:
“When I was a kid, my dream was to be a professional athlete or to be in the Olympics. Sports fueled my everything. It was my fire,” she said. “I remember when I felt the calling to religious life, it was like, I didn’t think that I could be passionate about anything more than sports.”
She did, however, answer the call to her vocation, and she combined her faith and passion for competitive sports in order to inspire the children she teaches. She believes that along with providing exercise and fun, sports provides an invaluable lesson in teamwork. In the same interview she explained:
“[Teamwork] shapes character and it inspires greatness and it pulls out your potential to be something more,” she said. “All of that is religious life, too. Your religious life is a team, and we push one another to be strong in virtue and character, and we work together to do something good for the human family.”
Sister Sobieck stands as a prime example to young people that one does not have to abandon their passions in the face of a religious vocation. She says:
“You don’t have to give up your gifts or the things you’re passionate about,” Sister Mary Jo said. “God integrates all of our gifts at a time when God wants to do that.”
The ESPY Awards are still a few weeks away. If you’d like to vote for Sister Mary Jo Sobieck to win this award, visit ESPN here.