Lynette Hernaez: A disciple’s journey in the fields of life

She was ranked as one of the top youth goalkeepers in the country, a product of the SoCal Blues club soccer team, and she had a scholarship to play soccer for Washington State. However, freshman goalkeeper Lynette Hernaez found her way to BYU to continue her journey as a disciple of Jesus Christ. 

Hernaez’s journey began when she met the missionaries as a high school student and a successful soccer player with a bright future. She gained a love for the Savior and became a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints the day after her 18th birthday in Corona, California.

After being at Washington State and sharing the gospel with others, she felt a pull to switch up the fields and serve as a missionary.

While she knew this wouldn’t be easy to leave behind her family, and a sport she loves, she knew that this is what she wanted to do. Replacing her jersey for a name tag, cleats for church shoes, and goalie gloves for scriptures, Hernaez left the soccer field behind to serve in the Salt Lake City South, Utah for 18 months. This would become another step in her journey becoming a representative of Jesus Christ.

(Photo: Lynette Hernez)

The start of a disciples journey

“From day one she was always a leader in the mission field,” said Hernaez’s mission president, Kendal A. Kotter. “She always had that confidence, that drive and she knew why she was out.”

“Many times she served as a sister training leader and she was just able to help other missionaries in a way that others couldn’t,” Sister Lesley Kotter said. “And I think some of that came from her background where she was just a new convert and she was able to see things from a different perspective.”

While her mission helped her to better understand the culture of the Church and what it means to be a member of this community, it was serving others that really helped Hernaez open her eyes to seeing others as loved sons and daughters of God.

“Serving others is the greatest thing in the whole entire world,” Hernaez said. “So much love and…so much joy, and the greatest joy you can really get is by serving others.”

President Potter also said that it was her focus on the Savior that really helped her to excel as a missionary as well as a disciple and this would be something she would carry far beyond the mission field as well as the soccer field.

A disciple on the soccer field

Returning to the soccer field has not stopped Hernaez from focusing on others. She has helped the No. 1 seeded Cougars reach the NCAA semifinals Friday (6:30 p.m., ESPNU) against No. 2 seed Stanford.

“[Lynette] is a very soft hearted, loving person,” coach Jen Rockwood said. “She is very kind and genuine, and has a deep care for others around her and I think that is very obvious. Again, a very soft, genuine heart but at the same time a fierce competitor.”

On Sept. 16, after being home from her mission of just 10 months, Hernaez was put into the game against Utah State for the second half. Up to this point, neither team had been able to score, and both were itching for a chance to get a piece of the net. Standing in the goal box with eyes glued to the ball as it was guided down the pitch and weaved through feet, Hernaez had her hands ready to protect one thing: the back of the net. 

However, it wasn’t the goal itself that possessed a problem. It was the fans that stood behind it. For 45 minutes, Hernaez heard what she says, were “the most horrible things” that people have ever said to her in her whole life all in an attempt to throw her off her game.

“The coolest part about that experience for me was I did not have a negative thought about them,” Hernaez said. “My first thought was seriously ‘Wow, God really loves these people behind me. These are all children of God behind me!’ That was my first thought.”

Even her teammates were ready to defend her against all the accusations made in her direction, but Hernaez held true to the person she had been able to become while on her mission and used that to help her push through all the harsh words and focus on what really matters.

“We talk about being a disciple of Christ on the soccer field and everywhere we go,” Rockwood said. “Because that is what we are here for is to help others feel that light, feel that love.”

Through the examples of her teammates and their love for God, being on the women’s soccer team here at BYU has continued to help Hernaez become an even more devoted disciple of Jesus Chirst, she said. 

“The women’s soccer team at BYU is so special,” Hernaez said. “Every single girl on the team has a love for God and we feel that.”

Since the beginning of her time on the team, Hernaez has not only shown her leadership skills through her infectious love that she has for others but also through her performance on the field. She has been able to play a total of 995 minutes this season with 41 saves and .820 save percentage. She was awarded Big 12 Goalkeeper of the Week honors and as well as All-Big 12 All-Freshman Team with her teammate Cameryn Jorgensen.

Off the field

Even amid her accomplishments, Hernaez continues to look forward to the things ahead, not just on the soccer field. While soccer is part of what helped her get here, Hernaez also looks for the opportunities BYU has to help her develop as a member of the Church.

“BYU has truly helped me to become a life-long disciple,” Hernaez said. “And for me personally, I feel like the Spirit is so important in all aspects of classes, like science and humanities. In those classes, I feel more engaged and involved in them. And the Spirit, what it does is testify of Christ. So I think all my classes are reminding me that there is a God and it’s growing me closer to my Heavenly Father.”

Hernaez is currently looking to declare an exercise science major while still keeping an open mind and exploring what she wants to do with it, including an interest in dentistry. She also looks forward to all that is to come in her time here at BYU.

“I’m just so grateful to be here,” Hernaez said. “I know this is exactly where I’m supposed to be, and you know I totally, 100 percent, trusted God’s plan for me. Whatever He has next, I’m going to follow and listen and I’m just excited for my next four years here.” 

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