Ed Eyestone speaks on the importance of role models

Ed Eyestone speaks on the importance of role models at the BYU devotional on Sept. 29, 2015. (Natalie Bothwell)

BYU head coach of track and field and men’s cross country, Ed Eyestone, addressed BYU campus on the influence of good mentors on Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2015.

As an All-American Athlete, Eyestone spoke fondly of different mentors he had throughout his life.

Eyestone talked about a Finnish athletic trainer he had during his freshman year at BYU, Ollie Julkenen, who would turn hamstrings and muscles into what Julkenen called “soup in a sack.”

He said he had not expected to learn a life lesson when he first climbed onto Julkenen’s padded table.

“Do not waste the black powder on the little birds,” Julkenen said during their first session.

Eyestone thought he wasn’t going to be allowed a massage and slid off the table before understanding what Julkenen had planned to teach him.

He explained he learned that no service is wasted.

“For the Lord loves his little birds and knows when even one sparrow falls,” Eyestone said.

Eyestone said he was grateful for the lesson he learned from Julkenen and encouraged students to find role models.

“Find great role models and mentors like Ollie Julkenen and learn from their accumulated wisdom,” Eyestone said. “May we have the courage to ask for help for help from all the Ollie Julkenen’s that the Lord puts in our path.”

The BYU coach also said students should find role models who inspire improvement with correction.

He then shared an audition experience he had with theater director, George Nelson, who corrected his performance when he was in a play. Eyestone warned that students’ pride often blinds them from taking advice and turning it into personal improvements.

“Taking direction is a serious challenge for most of us because pride turns direction to criticism in our mind,” Eyestone said. “How we handle direction, ultimately is a measure of our character and will help determine how far we go in life. If we can embrace direction rather than look at it as criticism, we are much more likely to learn and improve. If we are offended by direction we will most likely become stagnant and wither.”

He then gave a suggested cure to conquer criticism and personally improve. He said to worry less about critiques and to spend more time trusting others and taking direction.

In conclusion, Eyestone urged students to put forth a consistent and competent effort in listening to direction given by great mentors, promising that it would lead to eventual excellence.

“May we take advantage of the many mentors that surround us this year and may we be worthy mentors to those whom we serve,” Eyestone said. “May we not just take direction, but may we ‘take direction well’ without taking offense and may we see the value of gradual steps in the right direction.”

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