The BYU football team and members of the coaching staff spoke at two firesides in Colorado Springs, Colo., Friday evening.
BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall and his wife Holly spoke at the impressive chapel on the Air Force Academy campus to over 200 people, half of whom were LDS cadets. They were joined by freshman tight end Devin Mahina and sophomore offensive lineman Walter Kahaiali'i.
The fireside was conducted by Captain Zeb Beck, the Air Force Academy LDS chaplain and second cousin to Mahina. The service began with a 21-member LDS cadet choir singing "A Child's Prayer."
Mahina spoke first, focusing his words on overcoming adversity. Mahina described the challenges of his LDS mission to Madagascar, including learning Malagasy, the island nation's native language. In the end, he said, "We must not only endure, but endure well. There is a difference."
Following Mahina, Kahaiali'i played the piano while singing "O Lord, My Redeemer."
Holly Mendenhall spoke next, emphasizing to the cadets that people are always watching them because of the many things they represent. She gave one example of being with her son on vacation when a woman asked what the CTR ring on the boy's finger meant. While Sister Mendenhall admitted she was nervous, her son instantly piped up, "Choose the Right! It's for my church!"
Finishing the night was Coach Mendenhall. Mendenhall explained that motivation comes from three sources: the desire for autonomy, the desire for mastery or to be great, and for a purpose beyond self.
He went on to describe an interview with President Henry B. Eyring, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve.
"He sat with me, just the two of us, face-to-face, knee-to-knee about as close as you can be," Mendenhall said. "He didn't ask me a single thing about football; he just wanted to hear my testimony."
Mendenhall described how football is fifth on his program's list of priorities after faith, family, education and friends. Even then, he said, football success should help serve a better purpose: "If through how we play, our academics, our service people are impressed to ask 'what do they believe?' then our mission is accomplished," Mendenhall said.
At the close of his remarks, Captain Beck presented each of the participants with a special coin to remember the event. Following the closing song by the choir, a member of the group gifted an Air Force Academy hat to Coach Mendenhall.
At the regular team fireside, the first speaker was redshirt freshman tight end Richard Wilson. He opened by reading the scripture found in John 14:15, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”
“This is in essence being a true disciple of Christ,” said Richard. “Everything we do should be surrounded by love.”
He then shared the example of discipleship found in his grandmother. Since being diagnosed with a serious medical condition, she has been called as her ward’s Relief Society president. Her love for the sisters in her ward is evident in how she serves them.
Following Richard was junior running back Bryan Kariya. He highlighted “standing in holy places” as one of the aspects of being a follower of our Savior.
Reading from Doctrine and Covenants 45:32, “But my disciples shall stand in holy places, and shall not be moved; but among the wicked, men shall lift up their voices and curse God and die.”
“Out of all the darkness in the world, His followers will stand in holy places and be unyielding in doing what is right,” said Bryan. “Hopefully in our homes we are surrounded by reminders of the Gospel and those covenants we have made.”
He closed his talk by sharing a quote by President Harold B. Lee, “You cannot lift another soul until you are standing on higher ground than he is. You must be sure, if you would rescue the man, that you yourself are setting the example of what you would have him be. You cannot light a fire in another soul unless it is burning in your own soul. You teachers, the testimony that you bear, the spirit with which you teach and with which you lead, is one of the most important assets that you can have as you help to strengthen those who need so much, wherein you have so much to give. Who of us, in whatever station we may have been in, have not needed strengthening?”
Junior defensive back Travis Uale sang the song, “O Lord, My Redeemer” with junior quarterback Riley Nelson accompanying him on the piano.
Senior defensive lineman Vic So’oto followed the musical number by bearing a brief testimony. His main message to the congregation was stressing the importance of making righteous choices and making the most of your opportunities.
“There are people who came before and people who will come after you,” he said. “The only thing that matters is what you do when your name is called.”