Non-member family has long-standing tradition at BYU


    By Cristopher Rees

    Ernest L. Wilkinson walked in and said he wanted to beat the University of Utah.

    “BYU had never beaten the U of U in water polo,” said Eric Carsen, BYU graduate. “It was important to him to beat them. He was a real sports enthusiast.”

    Carsen came to BYU in 1968, served in the military for two years and came back to BYU and graduated in 1975, he said.

    While at BYU he helped the water polo team beat the U of U in three out of their four meetings in his first year, he said.

    Carsen has a son at BYU who was named this year as freshman all-American and Mountain West Conference freshman of the year in baseball, he said.

    Carsen said he has one daughter that he wishes would have chosen BYU and still hopes his next two do.

    Carsen met his wife, a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, at an activity at BYU.

    He and his children though, are not LDS.

    Carsen said he loves BYU.

    “My wife and I are thrilled our son has an opportunity to go there,” he said. “You have some great men up there that impart wisdom and principles. It makes it easy to sleep at night.”

    Carsen’s son, Matt Carsen, was offered a position playing major league baseball out of high school with the Expos, his father said.

    “He told them he’ll see them in four years after college,” Carsen said.

    He said his son was pressured by other colleges not to come to BYU.

    “They told him it was a mistake,” he said. “He chose the Y though. It was his choice and he says he’s thrilled to go there.”

    Carsen said he did not feel pressure because he was not LDS at BYU.

    “When I was there it was 99.5 percent LDS,” Carsen said. “If you don’t have a problem with the standards you’re not going to stand out.”

    Carsen said he now resides in an LDS-style community in California and probably half of his friends are members of the LDS church.

    He said the BYU environment was excellent.

    “It’s a unique and special place,” he said. “I don’t know if your going to fully appreciate it until you leave.”

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