Chance of a Lifetime

I (David) have had a passion for football since…well, I don’t remember ever not having a passion for football. As family folklore would have it, at about the age of two, I would lay on the carpet, one leg crossed over the other with hands behind my head, and would watch football on TV.  I was the family alien.  My family didn’t understand the sport nor my interest in it.   As a kid, I would get in my Oakland Raider jersey, complete with helmet and shoulder pads, and try to drag the neighborhood boys out of their homes to play football. When I wasn’t playing football outside, I would play football inside, and once I dislocated my brother’s finger in the process.  Sorry, Bro!  And when my friend, Curtis, got Mattel’s Handheld Football Game, I knew I had to have it.

As a child, I became a BYU football fan. I don’t remember exactly when this happened, but I remember that my friend, Curtis, and I were BYU fans.  A neighbor of mine, Mr. Russon, must have known about this as he gave me an autographed football from Gifford Nielsen, former BYU and Houston Oilers quarterback.

My first memory of attending a college football game was when our family went up to Logan to watch BYU play the Utah State Aggies in 1979. Utah State had the uniforms with a thick, white stripe down the side of the football pants.  I thought those were pretty sweet and wished BYU’s were like those.  But BYU’s helmets did have Cougar decals on them, each sticker representing a heroic act the player made for their team while in the field of battle.

Eric Hipple, who went on to be quarterback for the Detroit Lions, played quarterback for the Aggies, and Marc Wilson, who went on to be the Oakland Raider’s quarterback, played quarterback for the Cougars in that game.  After all these years, I have remembered the final score to that game:  BYU 48, Utah State 24.

I have remained a faithful BYU football fan.  I have trained my children to be the same.  Since my oldest seven children are girls, I’ve taught them how to play the game of football.  Yes, even a couple of the girls want to play football in a league.  Eleven of our kids are part of the Cosmo Kids Club at BYU (some pretty awesome benefits).  So when Thursday’s Heroes, sponsored by the Bronco and Holly Mendenhall Foundation, teamed up with the Utah Foster Care Foundation (having adopted 9 of our 12 children from Utah Foster Care and with a current foster care placement), inviting foster families to a watch a practice, followed by a meet and greet with the team and other activities, it was a no-brainer for us.

So we headed to BYU in our BYU garb, with one of our sons wearing my t-shirt from BYU’s national championship year in 1984.
Kids Carrying Kids
So many from the team took the time to talk with our children, sign autographs and shirts (and — in our teenager’s case, her arm)
AJ Moore (running back) was running the ladder and let kids run it too.
Teenager with AJ Moore
Our baby is giving Austin Heder (linebacker) five.
Z with Austin Heder
Jordan Leslie (receiver) with two of our best football players.
The girls with Jordan Leslie
Taysom Hill (quarterback) with two of our biggest BYU fans.
Our Girls with Taysom Hill
Some of our fam with Jherremya Leuta-Douyere (linebacker).The kids with Jherremya Leuta-Douyere
 Alani Fua (linebacker) signing the shirt of our biggest Cougar Fan.
Alani Fua and our biggest Cougar fan
 Isaac Robledo (running back) signs our girl’s shirt.
Our girl with Isaac Robledo
Our teenager gets a selfy with Harvey Jackson (defensive back).
Teenager with Harvey Jackson
Christian Stewart and Jordan Leslie spent extra time to throw the football with the kids.  It was then that I thought I would see my training of my kids to play football would payoff.  So when our teenager went to throw to the football to Christian or Jordan, it was a wounded duck and didn’t come close to either of them.  You can see in the photo below, the ball (circled) is almost going straight up.  Well, Robbie Bosco’s first series as a starter wasn’t so hot either.  In her defense, she said her hands were cold, and the football was bigger than the Nerfs she was accustomed to.
Our Teenager's Throw
It was an awesome experience.
At the next game that we went to as a family:
  • Christian Stewart threw four touchdowns.
  • Jordan Leslie caught one touchdown.
  • Alani Fua had an interception.
  • AJ Moore ran for 62 yards and a touchdown.
  • Austin Heder, Harvey Jackson, and Jherremya Leuta-Douyere each made at least one tackle.

And there were many others players that interacted with the kids that I could speak about.

I don’t know if our children will remember the details of the day that they got to chill with the BYU football team several years from now, as I remember details of BYU football from when I was a child, but someday I hope they see it for what it was, a chance of a lifetime.


 Christian Stewart (quarterback) with our family.
 Christian Stewart with Our Family
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