Facing a New Kind of Field

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    By Sara White

    As millions of Americans were lining up at schools and libraries around the country to cast their votes on Election Day in 2006, Matt Berry, former BYU quarterback, was showing his patriotism in a different way.

    On Nov. 8, 2006, in Draper, Berry was solemnly swearing to “support and protect the Constitution of the United States against all enemies” to become a member of the National Guard.

    In 2004, when strength and conditioning coach Jay Omer was quoted in the BYU football media guide saying he wanted to build the kind of team that “cares about each other, has team chemistry, and will go to war because they believe in each other,” he may not have realized the full effect of that desire. Three years later, Berry did go to war for those teammates and for every American.

    After graduating from BYU in 2005, Berry went on to work for Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah. However, this love of country, politics and the inner workings of the government is not a new fad for Berry.

    “Lorianne Updike and I were talking in church and she wanted to go and do this project,” Berry said, referring to ConSource, The Constitutional Sources Project that is the first complete and fully searchable online database of original materials used for the United States Constitution. “We started meeting in the basement of the [BYU] law library and that was pretty much how it was born.”

    According to its Web site, consource.org, the organization”s aim is to “[empower] all people with a tool to improve their Constitutional knowledge.”

    This desire to help empower the American people is what made Berry want to join the National Guard.

    “I have always wanted to serve my country and that is what it comes down to,” Berry said. “I have wanted to join ever since 9/11, but I had a scholarship to BYU and got caught up in life.”

    Then out of the blue, Berry ran into Keller Hinson, an old buddy from the Missionary Training Center. Hinson was going to join the Special Forces, and Berry decided then to join his friend. Together, they went to Fort Leonard Wood, in Missouri, to begin basic training.

    Currently, Berry is not facing deployment because he has not completed enough training.

    However, there is always the chance in the future.

    “There are always the fears and concerns about being deployed, but that is the job,” Berry said. “I didn”t go into this blinded by fears or concerns.”

    Berry”s parents were not free of concerns either.

    “My parents were a little freaked out,” Berry said. “I was their only son. Of course they were scared.”

    Berry said he was not surprised his parents were worried because it just was not a popular time to join the military.

    “I didn”t really tell many people till I was gone,” Berry said. “I didn”t want any advice. I just wanted to go.”

    And go he did.

    Buy why now?

    “I thought it was a good time in life,” Berry said. “I am still young and single. There is no better time.”

    Berry is currently waiting to become a combat engineer. When he completes his training, he will be taken in to the 1457th Combat Engineers.

    “It is a specialty,” he said. “We learn how to build bridges, then blow them up.”

    This new life of building bridges and blowing them up is not the life Berry envisioned for himself while he was a quarterback at BYU studying history.

    “I actually thought I would have a great career here at BYU and be playing in the NFL,” he said. “But since then, my perspectives and priorities have changed.”

    Berry said one person who helped him was Bronco Mendenhall, head football coach at BYU.

    “He helped me get my priorities straight,” Berry said. “I wanted to make a bigger impact due to his example.”

    Berry is living by Thanksgiving Point with an old mission companion while he continues to work on ConSource. Berry still goes to Camp Williams one weekend per month to continue training as he waits to begin officer-training camp in Alabama.

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