Call him hid away.
Gary Sheide, the first BYU quarterback to take the school to a bowl game, the 1974 Fiesta Bowl, has found a summer refuge for the ages, fishing with his brothers in a Huck Finn kind of life in the land of 10,000 lakes.
They spend days hooking bass, hauling in trout, frying walleye and cutting pike filets. The fish they don’t eat are released and those totals grow to more than 2,000 fish by the end of the summer. Dinner’s at 10 every night. Then they do it all over again the next day.
Sheide, you may remember, was the Joe Namath look-alike with the No. 12 jersey. He was a quarterback LaVell Edwards brought in from Antioch, California, who was a JC transfer from Diablo Valley College.
He became Edwards’ first All-American QB. He was Edwards' first Sammy Baugh Trophy winner, now up to seven, more than any other college. He led BYU to Edwards’ first WAC championship trophy. He became the Great Experiment by Edwards’ staff in launching a revolutionary passing attack that changed the college game. It was Sheide who opened the door for Gifford Nielsen, Marc Wilson, Jim McMahon, Robbie Bosco and so on and so on …
Sheide came to Provo in 1974.
“I thank LaVell for giving me a chance," Sheide said. "It was a decision and experience that changed the direction of my life and has led to my wife, my marriage, my faith, my children, and my career.”
Gary and his brothers Greg and Marty all live in Utah, with Gary and Greg working as educators, leaving them summers free to fish from dawn until sunset. Marty, who works for the City of Riverton, joins them when he can escape for a few days to the family cabin in Minnesota.
These annual summer trips to Minnesota began when the Sheide kids were in grade school. Their mother grew up in a small town called Erhard, Minnesota, with a population of 150 people, 12 of them kids in her family. When she met her husband in California, she drove him back to Erhard and he loved it so much the couple bought a two-bedroom cabin on Pebble Lake by a small town called Fergus Falls.
The Sheides paid $8,000 for a five-year loan in the mid-'60s and faced a balloon payment they didn’t know if they could ever make. But they did and it became the summer vacation spot for three generations.
“We’ve gone back there since we were 10 years old. Now that we have families, Greg, Marty and I come out early in the summer and then our families come out. Each family has two weeks time but Greg and I stay out here from beginning to end. Now grandchildren are involved. Ten years ago there was a flood that took the old cabin, but, with insurance money, we rebuilt a bigger cabin back off the lake with six rooms, a garage, shed and cabana, making it a far bigger place to come,” said Gary.
“In this area there are probably a thousand lakes in Otter Tail County, so we always face that hard decision, where are we going to fish in the morning.”
The Sheides go mainly for largemouth bass and catch more than 2,000 during the summer. “We also catch walleye and northern pike," Gary said. "It’s just our own heavenly getaway.”
All three brothers keep boats at the cabin year-round. Gary and Greg have Tracker bass boats and Marty has a ski boat.
Because Greg and Gary are teachers, they devote their summers to this routine. Marty comes the first 10 days and the brothers hit two lakes a day fishing all day long. Gary teaches physical education at Highland’s Mountain Ridge Junior High. Greg has worked and coached at Orem High for years.
“It’s just something we look forward to, we put in our calendars. Greg puts it in his scriptures,” said Gary.
Gary met his wife Sherree, who is from Virginia, at BYU and after football they lived in Virginia for 20 years before moving to Utah 16 years ago. Gary converted to the LDS faith while at BYU.
All of Gary and Sherree’s five children have served LDS missions. The oldest, Michelle, went to Kiev, Ukraine; Tara served in New York City South, New York; Troy did service in Birmingham, Alabama; Marshall went to Tijuana, Mexico; and the youngest, Tanner, spent two years in Chiclayo, Peru. All five children have attended BYU. Troy, a walk-on on BYU’s football team, joined corner Ben Criddle, now an ESPN 960 sports host, in making a YouTube video called “Ode to the Scout Team,” during the Bronco Mendenhall era.
Many times, Gary has been called upon to help with BYU football and baseball broadcasts. He is an upbeat, engaging person who has a positive outlook on life and people. In short, he is a legend at BYU whom many younger fans never saw play or remember. He was a third-round NFL draft pick by Cincinnati in 1975 but did not have an NFL career.
Sheide was not available this past week for BYU football media day where the late Edwards was the theme. This fishing thing conquers all of Sheide's summer plans.
But Sheide isn’t so removed from the scene that he doesn’t remember his former coach, a man who reshaped his life.
“Everything about my life, my goals, everything changed around my decision to come and play football at BYU. LaVell had faith in me and I owe a lot to that man.”