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Ute players speak at fireside before bowl

first_imgPOWAY, Calif. — Although his team was spending several days in Southern California for its bowl game, Utah assistant football coach Morgan Scalley said the most important part of the trip for several team members already took place Sunday morning.”The greatest thing we could do today was to partake of the sacrament,” Scalley said. “It was far more important than anything we’ll do as a football team this week.”Scalley and two Ute defensive starters, Mike Wright and Christian Cox, spoke during a fireside at the Pomerado Ward building in the Poway Stake on Dec. 20.With several young priesthood holders among the 200 or so in the audience, each of the Utes spoke of their mission and how it helped them in all aspects of their lives.”Nothing will ever compare to what I accomplished in the mission field,” said Scalley, who served in Munich, Germany. “Football means nothing compared to the work of spreading the gospel. That’s the greatest feeling in the world, and nothing we do as football players can compare to that.”Wright talked about goals and the 2008 football season. The team set 10 goals at the start of the year, including having proper team chemistry, having no off-the-field issues, going undefeated and winning a BCS game.”We achieved every goal, and it was a very special year for us,” he said, pointing to hard work, determination, discipline, teamwork and never losing sight of their goals as the main reasons for success.Wright also talked about trials and quoted Doctrine and Covenants 122:5-8, about Joseph Smith’s time in prison.Wright said most things in life had come easy to him. However, he was forced to come home early from his mission to Bolivia because of illness, which made him “feel like a failure.”Instead, the experience “set me up for success” and “shaped me into the person I am today,” he said. “Trials helped me to understand the Atonement of Christ. Each trial we face is for our own good and for our salvation.”Cox, who called his mission to Brazil “the most rewarding time of my life,” spoke of his love for the San Diego area and related a story of a vacation his family took there when he was 12 years old.While on a boogie board, he didn’t pay attention to where he was and found himself a long way from the shore due to the undertow.Suddenly, he heard sirens. Lifeguards rushed out to rescue him.Cox said he was having fun and wasn’t scared, but related it to sin, saying, “If we’re not careful, we can slowly be swept away.”President Keith Monroe of the Poway Stake presidency, who conducted the meeting, said many members who usually wear blue ties were wearing red ties that evening. He also said one member, who was a BYU fan, told him that Utah’s Sugar Bowl victory the year before almost persuaded him to become a Ute.Scalley pointed out that Utah has one of the most diverse college football teams in America. He said approximately one-third of the team is Caucasian, one-third African-American and one-third Polynesian. There is also a large age range, due in part to more than three dozen returned missionaries. When Scalley was a 25-year-old senior, one of his teammates was 17-year-old Brian Johnson.”We come from a lot of different backgrounds, and (it) gives us a lot of opportunities for missionary experiences,” Scalley said.One such experience came at the U. when Scalley played a big part in the conversion of Eric Weddle, who coincidentally had played for the San Diego Chargers in a game a couple of hours earlier and a few miles away.Among those in the congregation were Lyman Clark, a member of the 1947 University of Utah NIT champion basketball team; and Ray Holdcraft, a linebacker for the 2003 Utah football team.e-mail: [email protected]last_img read more