August 12, 2022

From the gates of England’s Premier League to professional and national women’s soccer teams, Latter-day Saint soccer players have been making headlines in recent months, both playing well and sharing their faith.

Olivia Moultrie

Olivia Moultrie is 16, but she has already scored a professional goal with the Portland Thorns of the National Women’s Soccer League. In fact, she turned pro at the age of 13.

She scored that goal in a tournament last summer and she’s seen action in two games so far this season. This spring, she scored two goals and had an assist to help the USA U-20 team win a regional tournament that earned her a spot in this year’s Women’s World Cup for players under 20.

Earlier this year Bonnie H. Cardon, Primary general president, interviewed Moultrie.

Moultrie said she doesn’t consider herself the youngest professional soccer player, but a daughter of God. She always prays on the pitch just before kick-off.

“I’ve been doing it since I was 10 and I will forever,” she said.

She cited President Russell M. Nelson’s statements that effort matters to the Lord and said she tries to stay as close to God as possible.

“By continuing to do the things we can to be closest to him, he will tell us what he needs us to do,” she said.

Jon Russel

Each year, three English football teams are promoted from the country’s second division to replace the three worst teams in the Premier League.

Jon Russell has been instrumental in bringing Huddersfield into a single promotion focus this spring. Unfortunately, the team lost 1-0 in the last play-off game.

In the process, Russell was the subject of two major stories, one in the Telegraph and the other in The Athletic, both of which featured his unique place as a Latter-day Saint in British football.

The Telegraph called Russell, who previously played in the Premier League with Chelsea, “the only Mormon in English football”.

“I know I’m pretty rare,” he said in the story.

“Praying and reading helped calm me down,” Russell said. “It was one of the biggest parts of my life and now it’s like a pre-game ritual. That’s what I have and I feel like God is there to help me. When I I was young, I was petrified before games. Having faith made me confident and less scared.

He went into more detail with The Athletic.

“I remember that time before a game I was reading the Book of Mormon, and it was the first time I had read it properly and felt the scriptures and during the game my nerves just (passed out) “, did he declare. “I felt a confidence that I had never felt before and then I realized how important my faith was.”

Ashley Hatch

Moultrie isn’t the only Latter-day Saint in the NWSL.

Winner of the Golden Boot last year as the NWSL’s most prolific scorer, Ashley Hatch is back this year, with three goals in seven games, good for fifth in the league.

The Spirit are off to a rocky start as defending champions, but Hatch seized a recent opportunity to bring several of his teammates to the Washington DC Temple Open House.

“I didn’t realize how vulnerable I would feel bringing my teammates to the temple,” she told Church News, “but I really enjoyed it. They were all so great to come out and support me.

My recent stories

Police respond to report of a hail of bullets at the Hill Cumorah Visitors’ Center in New York City (June 8)

At the National Press Club, Elder Bednar answers questions about church finances, representation of the church in the media (May 26)

Latter-day Saints mourn “senseless” shooting in Texas, Elder Bednar told the National Press Club (May 26)

The time President Gordon B. Hinckley made the National Press Club laugh (May 25)

About the church

A church-wide broadcast featuring Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf speaking about “Teaching in the Savior’s Way” will air this weekend. The video will be available for live streaming on Saturday here. It will also air on the Church Satellite Network and on YouTube.

The church hosted the dedication of the Burley Idaho Temple.

My colleague Trent Toone wrote of a Hollywood film throwback to a missionary in this story: “Which more accurately depicts Latter-day Saints: ‘Under the Banner of Heaven’ or ‘The Other Side from the sky’ ?

A lawsuit was found in which Joseph Smith sought restitution of church property. Learn more here.

Elder Robert L. Backman, General Authority Seventy emeritus, has passed away.

A female church member wrote an essay about how the church was her escape from misogyny and violence.

what i read

I watched a lot of women’s college world series because I coach fast softball. I really enjoyed learning about the sweet, family tradition of what they do with home racing balls.

In the wings

Portland Thorns player Olivia Moulton told an interviewer she grew five inches between turning professional at 13 and making her National Women’s Soccer League debut at 15 last summer.