Seminary students at Pleasant Grove High School have a new teacher this year who almost played Major League Baseball.
He’s a former BYU pitcher who was drafted by teams in the majors multiple times. What’s more, in high school, he was also set to play collegiate football for San Diego State.
Marc Oslund’s journey to becoming a seminary teacher is as surprising as it sounds, but he’s glad to be where he’s at.
“At this point in my life I see no other place I would ever want to go,” he said. “I just love every day so much.”
His decision to teach seminary is a fairly recent one, made when his elbow wasn’t healing completely after a surgery last year. Until then, he had plans (and offers) to play baseball in the big leagues.
His path to BYU in the first place was just as unlikely. He grew up outside of the LDS Church in California, and when he was a junior in high school, an LDS young woman moved in and the two became friends. She asked him if he wanted to hang out with her one Sunday but told him he had to go to church with her first.
“So I went to church and … they were normal, and all the misconceptions that I had were totally evaporated,” he said, laughing. “I started going to church pretty regularly.”
Eventually, his friend moved to Utah, and Oslund prepared to play football at San Diego State. When he was about to sign, he blew out his knee.
“I just felt the weight of the world crushing down on me,” Oslund said. “It was the opposite of how I usually feel — happy, cheerful — (I felt) depressed, miserable, lonely, disheartened.”
He said he wanted the happiness he saw in his LDS friend, and he thought maybe the Church was where that came from. Eventually he prayed to know the truth, got an answer and was baptized.
That decision led him to BYU, where he played baseball for one year before serving a mission in North Carolina. He had planned to serve a mission since joining the Church, turning down an offer from the Kansas City Royals in 2008 in order to serve.
“I turned that down to serve a mission because I knew that was more important,” he said.
On the mission he missed being drafted in 2011. More opportunities came when he returned to Provo, but Oslund and the MLB still didn’t match up.
“In 2012, when I had some interest, they didn’t want me to miss a couple months for getting married, so that didn’t happen. … So I kind of set my mind on something else,” Oslund said. “I didn’t know what that something else was, but I didn’t think baseball was going to be a long-term career anymore.”
When his arm wasn’t getting back to normal after surgery, Oslund said, he met with BYU baseball head Coach Mike Littlewood to talk about his options. “He said, ‘Marc, I want to have you on this team, we all love you, we want you to be here and we need you to play, but honestly, I think God’s pointing you a different way,” Oslund said. “And it was at that point that I just thought I needed to end it. It was a miserable decision, but that was the catalyst to kind of put me where I’m at now.”
Littlewood said it was a difficult decision for Oslund. “It was a tough conversation for me to have, a tough conversation for him to have, just because I know how much he, one, loved competing, and two, loved being a teammate, just being around the guys and being a leader with this team,” Littlewood said. “So I’m sure it was one of the hardest things he ever had to do.”
Oslund finished his degree in humanities and secured a seminary teaching job at Pleasant Grove High School, where, he says, he couldn’t be happier.
“It is a dream,” he said. “These kids at Pleasant Grove, they are just the sweetest. They make my day better every morning. I love them so much.”
Teaching seminary is a far cry from playing in the MLB, but the transition from the pitcher’s mound to the high school classroom has been a good one for Oslund.