Football adopts ‘Protect LaVell’s House’ motto


BYU football has adopted a new motto for the 2018 season — “Protect LaVell’s House” — and aims to do just that throughout the season. After the most recent win at home over McNeese State, BYU moved up in the AP Top 25 from No. 25 to No. 20.

This new motto has made its way across social media, appearing first on BYU affiliated accounts and then spreading to fan accounts. It eventually transformed into a hashtag, #ProtectLaVellsHouse.

Madeline Mortensen
Dallin Holker, a freshman tight end for the BYU Cougars this season. (BYU Photo)

Freshman tight end Dallin Holker, who received playing time in the BYU win over Wisconsin, explained that the team’s main focus last week was to work hard in practice to perform well at the home game against McNeese.

“It’s my second game here. Home games are crazy for me, and they mean a lot because I’ve been as big a fan as they come, so it’s a huge plus to protect all the home games,” Holker said.

He said that “Protect LaVell’s House” is a focal point this year as a way to honor the late LaVell Edwards, BYU’s hall of fame coach.

“Growing up, I was a BYU fan,” Holker said. “Seeing a good coach, how much he wanted it and hearing stories from Kalani (Sitake) about him, it’s really cool to be a part of it.”

Stan Larson (below the trophy) celebrates with coach LaVell Edwards and his teammates after winning the Holiday Bowl, Dec. 22, 1984 in San Diego. (Stan Larson)

Former BYU tight end Stan Larson, who played on the 1984 national team, experienced Edwards’ coaching first-hand. However, Larson explained that Edwards was so much more than just a coach: he was a genuine, one-on-one type of person who happened to be a successful coach.

“He knew thousands of people, and it’s an incredible talent to be able to remember names and faces of thousands of people,” Larson said. “And that was LaVell. He would meet somebody and not see them for 10 years or 15 years, and they could walk right up to him and he’d remember them and call them by name.”

Larson shared a personal story about receiving counsel from Edwards years after playing for him. He explained that he had not spoken to Edwards for five to seven years but was conflicted about a career change and decided to reach out.

“I called him, and we had a conversation while he was on his mission,” Larson said, referring to the mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that Edwards and his wife Patti Edwards served in New York City from 2002 to 2003. “It was just the kind of insight that I needed, and the fact that he would stop and take time out of his service to do that showed the character and kind of person he was.”

Coach LaVell Edwards poses for a family photo with his sons Jim (left) and John (right), wife Patti and daughter Ann in front of the Cougar statue, 1965. (LaVell Edwards family)

This personal account coincided with what Edwards believed, according to John Edwards, LaVell’s oldest son.

John Edwards said his father believed in treating people well, working hard and doing his best. He explained that doing a good job was more important to his father than any of the accolades he received and that his father didn’t see himself as above others.

“The day they named the stadium after him, I rode with him to the store and he said, ‘All I was trying to do was be a good employee to the people who hired me,'” John Edwards said.

John Edwards was in the seventh grade when his father became BYU’s head football coach. He expressed that football was a family affair in their household and that his mother was superstitious and adamant about doing the same routine every game day.

“She made the beds the same way and pretty much every home game she would make this stew, and we called it ‘game day stew,'” John Edwards shared. “She would make it in the morning, and then she would put it in the oven, and it would cook for the whole game. Then, we would come home and have ‘game day stew.'”

Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo
LaVell Edwards stands in BYU’s football stadium on July 26, 2004. In 2004, Edwards was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. This season, the BYU football team has adopted the motto “Protect LaVell’s House.” (Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)

When discussing the day his father passed away, John Edwards expressed immense gratitude to the person or people who turned on the lights at LaVell Edwards Stadium and to the BYU fans who he and his family saw gathering at the stadium to share memories of his father.

“That’s what BYU football is. It’s about a family,” John Edwards explained. “Everybody was included, and that is what defined (my father). He defined himself by how he treated people. That’s why it’s LaVell’s house.”

The Cougars defended LaVell’s house with a 30-3 victory over McNeese State on Sept. 22. At the end of the game, the team joined the student section and together chanted the fight song. The stadium erupted with pride, and there was no question that “Protecting Lavell’s House” is its top priority.

The Cougars’ next game is on Sept. 29 at the University of Washington. Kickoff is scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m. MST. Their next home game is scheduled Friday, Oct. 5 at 7 p.m. MDT.

Help the Edwards’ family tradition continue on by attending the game and making some ‘game day stew’ at home to eat afterward.

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