Sister Mary Jo Sobieck walked up to the pitcher's mound Saturday at the Chicago White Sox's Guaranteed Rate Field, tossed the baseball into the air, bounced it off her arm, caught it again then delivered the ceremonial first pitch - right over the plate and into White Sox pitcher Lucas Giolito's glove.

Then the video went viral, with ESPN's video of the pitch racking up nearly 4 million views as of Monday evening.

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Sobieck, 49, a Dominican sister and teacher at Marian Catholic High School in Chicago Heights, Ill., was tapped to throw the first pitch before her school's night at the ballgame to commemorate their 60th year. She had no idea it would go viral.

"It's been unreal. I never anticipated this whatsoever," Sobieck said.

But long before her highlight reel made ESPN's "SportsCenter," Deadspin, Sports Illustrated, ABC's "Good Morning America" and countless other national outlets, Sobieck honed her skills on Minnesota ball diamonds.

Raised in a large Catholic family in Sauk Rapids, Sobieck attended Cathedral High School in St. Cloud where she played shortstop on the school's softball team. After graduating from high school in 1987, she continued her education and softball career at Vermillion Community College in Ely and at the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, where she also played volleyball.

"Growing up, I was naturally gifted as an athlete - that was my God-given gift," Sobieck said when the News Tribune reached her by phone Monday afternoon. It was at least her 16th interview of the day, she said.

But her connections to Duluth extend far beyond sport.

After a stint of student teaching at Holy Rosary School in Duluth in the early 1990s, she was hired there as a preschool teacher, working beside sisters from the Dominican Sisters of Springfield Illinois. That inspired her to join the order in 1993.

"I enjoyed their comradery and just spending time with them as a layperson ... it was a friendship that blossomed into just really feeling this call," said Sobieck. "And my passion for sport kind of transferred over into a passion for God."

She returned to Duluth and Holy Rosary in 1999 as a sister and taught there until 2006 when the order stopped staffing the school.

She's been at Marian Catholic High School ever since but returns to Duluth and Minnesota regularly, she said.

Dana Moore, the head volleyball coach at St. Scholastica, has been friends with Sobieck since 1993 when Moore's son had Sobieck as a preschool teacher at Holy Rosary.

Moore first saw the video of Sobieck throwing out the first pitch on Facebook Sunday.

"She hasn't changed one bit. That's the part I love so much," Moore said.

For Moore, the playfulness and fun Sobieck is having in the video exemplifies her character.

"The personality that you see there is the same personality that she deals with parents, with her students, with the community," Moore said. "Not that she's a nun trying to be this person, she's this person and her vocation is to be a sister."

By using her athletic gift, Sobieck hopes the video of her first pitch will give viewers a feeling of joy.

"I hope people have seen that I love life, I enjoy giving back," Sobieck said.