By Adam Rodriguez
Former BYU football star turned sports anchor, Vai Sikahema, spoke to BYU broadcast journalism students Monday, where he encouraged the group to work hard and maintain high standards.
?If you do your best, the Lord makes things happen,? Sikahema said.
Sikahema said BYU?s standards give graduates a unique advantage in the workforce.
?What?s different here [at BYU] is that it?s a value-based system,? Sikahema said. ?People with values and integrity are valued more now than ever.?
Sikahema related several personal experiences where his high standards helped him in his career as a sports anchor in Philiadelphia, the forth-largest market in the country. He told students his station was looking to hire a new weatherperson, and a BYU alumna, Amy Freeze, was one of the candidates being considered. Being well-acquainted with Sikahema?s personal integrity and high standards, the news director asked Sikahema directly, ?Will she [Freeze] bring the same values and integrity you bring as a Latter-day Saint??
Sikahema had already met with Freeze, and answered he was sure she would. A couple of weeks later, Freeze was hired.
?I can?t help think about it,? Sikahema said of the experience. ?It?s significant that stations recognize what it means to be a BYU graduate and have Latter-day Saint values.?
Sikahema also spoke about an experience where word got around the office that he didn?t like hearing the name of the Lord being taken in vain. People went out of their way to make sure they used appropriate language when he was present, Sikahema said. And sometimes in station meetings, a news director or manager would let profanity slip on accident and would immediately apologize to him.
At one point, some good-natured colleagues made a sign for Sikahema, now hanging on his door, that reads ?No Curse Zone.?
Sikahema?s strong devotion to his faith has made him the Church?s unofficial representative among co-workers. Every April and October during General Conference, all Church stories are sent to Sikahema to be proofread before going to air.
?My news director has mandated that no copy on LDS stories are ever written unless it is proof written by me.? Sikahema said. ?I?m the sports guy. I do scores and highlights, and here are these folks who do news, bringing their story to me to proofread.?
Sikahema said he got into television because of football. Television stations interviewed him frequently because of the unique and original answers he gave.
?I sort of thought out my answers and gave them a couple of clever answers,? Sikahema said. ?Mostly cause I liked to see sound bites of myself on TV.?
At that time, Sikahema was a return specialist for the Philadelphia Eagles. But he realized that playing professional football wouldn?t always pay the bills, and Sikahema felt the responsibility of caring for a growing family.
?It?s hard to send kids to primary and then go to the field and play pro football,? Sikahema said.
The more Sikahema interviewed and worked with stations, the more he realized that broadcasting was something he wanted to do. Besides, he was able to offer stations something other reporters couldn?t.
?I gave stations access, ? Sikahema said. ?I could interview star players. All I had to do was make a few phone calls.?
Sikahema interviewed for a job in Philadelphia, and before long, he was anchoring sports on weekends.
?I really can?t complain.?