Going Pro In Something Other Than Sports

Tammy Kirby Bowers cleared heights nearly double her 5-foot-3 stature as a BYU pole vaulter. Now she soars over the bar of challenges as a Lehi mother of four children, including two-year-old Landen, a special needs son. (Photo by Anna Page)

You’ve heard the jingle a jillion times, “There are thousands of athletes in the NCAA and most of us are going pro in something other than sports.”

Here’s proof from Provo. Witness a sampling from former BYU athletes, starting with Judge Michael D. DiReda, a Cougar baseball player from the 1980s.

Judge DiReda was appointed to the Second District Court by Governor Jon M. Huntsman, Jr., in December 2008. He serves Davis, Morgan and Weber counties. Judge DiReda received a bachelor's degree in psychology from Pepperdine University in 1990, followed by a law degree from Pepperdine.

DiReda, from Glendale, Calif., was a reserve second baseman for BYU in 1985 and transferred to Pepperdine to play for the Waves in 1986, where he played in 42 games, batting .217.  At BYU DiReda played in one game in a talented infield behind Brian Carroll, Blake Jensen, Gary Schoonover and current BYU coach Mike Littlewood. 

Now Judge DiReda adroitly handles curves thrown his way with the skill of an ambidextrous octopus as he sits on a different bench.

DiReda, however, may not be the most notable of BYU baseball players to excel in the legal profession.

Jeff Dusek, a pitcher from 1970-72 is one of BYU’s more prolific pitchers with a 26-7 record.  Now retired, Dusek received national attention in 2002 as the prosecutor in his role as assistant San Diego County attorney for murder of 7-year-old Danielle Van Dam.  Dusek graduated from BYU in 1972 with a bachelor’s in history and earned his law degree from Washington and Lee University.

Often forgotten amongst the professions of former BYU athletes is a non-salaried one called “mother.”  Two of these “moms” who played for BYU are also married to spouses who were former Cougar athletes, perhaps an omen for college recruiters to stand by with letters of intent.

Six children have been born to Rosemary Jensen Bell, who played basketball for BYU from 1977-79.  Rosemary is married to Tom, who was an All-American offensive lineman for the Cougars  in 1979. They have raised their family, living around the world in Japan, Indonesia, Virginia and now California because he works for the U.S. State Department.  Four of their six children have graduated from BYU.  Their youngest, twin daughters, currently attend BYU.
 

Seven children call former BYU volleyball All-American and Cougar Club Hall of Fame member Michele Fellows Lewis by the name of “Mom.”  Michelle is married to Chad Lewis, who starred in the NFL and is now an associate athletic director for development at BYU.  Michelle earned her bachelor’s in math education in 1995 from BYU.

Five children have also been born to Dylann Duncan Ceriani, who majored in electrical engineering at BYU in 1989 and received a master's degree from Cal Berkeley in  biomechanics in 1996.  Dylann was an All-American and Academic All-American volleyball player for the Cougars and currently works as a biomechanical engineer at Motion Analysis Laboratory Children's Hospital in San Diego.  She played professional volleyball in Switzerland in the early 1990s and was inducted in 1999 to the BYU Athletic Hall of Fame.

Four children were born to swimmer Lisa Swaim Bloom, who graduated with a bachelor’s of science degree from BYU in 1983. Lisa is now a grandmother of three and has had three daughters graduate from BYU, two of whom also swam butterfly and freestyle for the Cougars.  She married a lifeguard at BYU (now a retired police officer) and they also have a son serving in the Army.
 
“I stayed home with children for 13 years and then began teaching half time for a while,” said Bloom, who resides in Hesperia, Calif. “I am now an assistant principal at a K-8 school in California.”
 
Four children also have been born to Tammy Kirby Bowers, a former BYU pole vaulter who graduated in 2003 from BYU with a bachelor’s in marriage, family and human development and lives with her husband in Lehi. Their youngest son, two-year-old Landen, was born with heart disease and had a transplant when he was three months old.
 
Landen has Leopard’s syndrome, one of 200 diagnosed cases in the world (there is one other case in Utah, ironically also in Lehi), chronicled in the family blog www.thelittlelambandthestronglion.blogspot.com. Landen got his donor heart on Mother’s Day 2010, from a baby girl who died in a car wreck in Ankey, Iowa.
 
Tammy got her degree from BYU in marriage, family and human development.  She takes their immuno-compromised son to 20 hours of appointments each week.  Tammy is involved in organ donation and speaks at local hospitals, including once a month at the parent hour at the Primary Children’s Hospital in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).  Their son will need another heart in the coming years.
 
Several former BYU athletes have gone on to work in the broadcasting industry, some after notoriety as players in the pros.  These include:

·      Steve Young and Trevor Matich (both football),  analysts for ESPN
·      Johnny Miller and Bobby Clampett (both golf) color analysts on the PGA tour
·      Vai Sikahema  (football) sports anchor with NBC TV in Philadelphia
·      Greg Peterson (football), color analyst for the Calgary Stampeders
·      Todd Christensen (football), former TV color analyst for NBC and The Mountain
·      Brett Benson (football), weatherman on KTVX, channel 4 in Salt Lake City
·      Marc Lyons (football), Mark Durrant (basketball), Chuck Cutler (football) and Paul Ruffner (basketball), current and past color analysts for KSL Radio.
·      Blaine Fowler (football), color analyst for BYU TV
·      Steve Eagar (baseball), news anchor for Fox TV News in Dallas
·      Scott Haws (baseball), KSL-TV news anchor in Salt Lake City
·      Michael Smith (basketball), color analyst for Los Angeles Clippers
·      Ed Eyestone (cross country, track), analyst for ESPN
·      Amy Steele Gant (volleyball), former analyst for BYUtv

Other former Cougar football players who have gone on to other professions include:
·      Marv Allen, a surgeon at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center
·      Blair Buswell, sculptor
·      Chuck Cutler, a financial planner in Draper, Utah, who recently served as a mission president in San Antonio
·      Craig Christensen and Larry EchoHawk, members of the First Quorum of Seventy
·      Richard Hobbs, a pharmaceutical salesman in Shelly, Idaho
·      Brian McDonald, works with troubled youth in Draper, Utah
·      David Neff, a medical sales manager, Oakley, Utah

Former Cougar basketball players who have gone on to other professions include:
·      Devin Durrant, who currently serves as a mission president in Dallas, Texas
·      Mike May, who recently served as a mission president in Chile
·      Glen Roberts, a local title insurance lawyer
·      Steve Schreiner, Provo City attorney