BYU football players share experiences at Oregon fireside


KEIZER, Ore. — The night before a big game, the last thing most football teams would be doing is sitting in a chapel — and even less likely speaking in church.

However, the night before they played against the Oregon State Beavers, the BYU football team sat on the stand of an LDS Oregon Stake Center ready to speak and even sing to an overflowing room of people. Their messages Friday night ranged from being a light for others to having courage.

[media-credit name=”Chris Bunker” align=”alignright” width=”182″][/media-credit]
The BYU football team comes out of the tunnel onto the field at Reser Stadium for Saturday's game againt Oregon State. BYU defeated Oregon State 38-28 on Saturday at Reser Stadium.
The first speaker was tight end Marcus Mathews. Mathews, an Oregon native, spoke of how important a mission and being a light to others can be. He related how, for a long time, he had not planned on serving a mission, but ultimately decided to serve one.

“My mission is my everything,” Mathews said. “It changed me for the better.”

A story that Mathews related from his mission was about the scarcity of sunlight and how the people in his mission in Sweden were attracted to the beauty and warmth of a rare ray of sunshine.

“A single ray of sunlight can make someone’s day,” Mathews said. “People would instinctively … walk over and stand in the light.”

He went on to relate rays of sunshine to the gospel and the light that members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can give to another.

“We can be a light to others and they can be a light to their friends,” Mathews said. “It’s a chain reaction.”

After Mathews finished, “Abide with Me” was sung by six of the team members. Following the musical number, defensive lineman Eathyn Manumaleuna spoke about prayer and a life-changing experience.

He asked the audience how mighty prayer and supplication had changed their lives, and he went on to talk about a story that happened when he was growing up in Alaska where his life was in danger. He was alone and in a very dangerous situation. After saying several prayers, he was brought to safety. He then prayed again in gratitude.

“We always need to communicate with him and give thanks to him,” Manumaleuna said.

There was another musical number following Manumaleuna’s talk. The whole team, along with head coach Bronco Mendenhall’s sons, sang “We’ll Bring the World his Truth.”

Following the powerful song, Mendenhall’s wife Holly addressed the audience. She spoke of courage and righteousness.

“Sometimes, it’s very difficult to stand up for something right,” she said.

The concluding speaker was coach Bronco Mendenhall, who played football for Oregon State. He spoke on a variety of topics that ranged from being an example to staying close to God.

“Many times I talk to [the team] in an us against the world mentality [and] we’re really trying to be us for the world,” Mendenhall said. “Meaning that we’re hoping to put a football program together that will inspire and bring light to the world through how we play a game.”

He also said the team, by partnering with fans, could help share the message of the church through good behavior and by being examples.

“Maybe we together can provide an influence of light and goodness to the world through a game that represents the institution of Brigham Young, which is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” Mendenhall said. “What if it is possible? Is that worth doing?”

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