New England Patriot middle linebacker Kyle Van Noy’s journey to the Super Bowl hasn’t always been easy, but it launched from a foundation that has never let him down.
As Layne and Kelly Van Noy stood in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport this week waiting for their son’s wife, Marissa, to arrive, they reflected on the life of their second son, who will play in his second Super Bowl on Sunday.
It hasn’t always been easy, but it’s been a sponsored affair by a couple who prayed to have Kyle in their lives and, as adoptive parents, have had his back from the first time they held him in their arms.
Layne remembers when Kyle was just 4 and they were playing whiffle ball in the backyard. Layne was pitching and Kyle was hitting. He had a perfect athletic swing, and his reflexes and reaction were textbook with the steps he took. After Kyle hit a pitch, his dad asked him to go get the ball, thinking it would be good exercise for him.
“No, you get it,” said Kyle.
“No, you go get it,” said the dad.
“You get it,” retorted Kyle.
“Why don’t you go get it?” said the dad.
In the end, Layne went and retrieved the ball and pitched it again, and Kyle hit it.
“So, we had a stalemate at 4 years old on who was going to go get the whiffle ball,” said Layne. “It was kind of an indication of his teenage years, he was pretty headstrong.”
One of Kelly’s favorite Kyle stories is the standoff she had with her son over going to an LDS youth conference when he was in high school. One of the speakers was then-BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall.
“We ended up in a real conversation. His final comment was, ‘I’m not going to youth conference and I’m not going to BYU.’ My final say was, ‘Right now, I don’t care if you go to BYU, but you are going to youth conference.’ He ended up doing both.”
It changed the trajectory of his life.
“He recognizes the value of listening to his parents for the most part,” said Layne. “Kids, in general, don’t want you to think they are listening to your advice, but, in reality, it goes into their hearts more than we believe.”
In the stadium Sunday, Layne, and Kelly will look on at their handiwork, a son playing on the world’s biggest stage. A symbolic Patriot team of sorts to them, a franchise known for signing unique pieces and making them fit the puzzle.
“We think it’s amazing,” said his mother, Kelly. “It’s a dream come true, and he’s excited. He has a bigger role this year, and he’s worked hard for this.”
Added Layne, “We’re definitely veterans, going into our second trip to the Super Bowl. These are once-in-a-lifetime experiences like everyone says they are. And now it’s a twice-in-a-lifetime experience. We are looking forward to it.”
Kelly reflected back when she and Layne sent in an application to adopt with LDS Family Services and waited five weeks for the phone call that there was a child for them.They were living in California at the time, and the baby was in Nevada.
“The moment we saw him and held him, we knew he was our child,” said Kelly.
The couple decided from the start they would be upfront and honest about Kyle’s origins in this world, that he was adopted. “We didn’t think there was a magical time that he was told, we’ve always explained who he was and that we love him,” said Kelly.
The Van Noy adoption was a blind arrangement; they’ve never met the birth mother.
“He knows what we know about his biological parents,” she said. “We read a little about his birth mother but had little information about his father. Kyle has never expressed a curiosity about it.”
BYU linebacker Kyle Van Noy poses during media day in Provo on Thursday, Aug. 11, 2011. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
Early, the Van Noys recognized a competitive spirit, size, speed and passion in Kyle. Layne was in charge of the city’s recreation programs and handpicked which ones Kyle would participate in. He played against kids a year or two older than him. When his older brother would play on a basketball team, during timeouts, Kyle wasn’t shy at all about running on the court and shooting hoops.
“When you looked at him as a young child, you could tell by his physique that Kyle had agility and coordination, that he had some God-given talent. He had a six-pack at 4-years-old,” said Layne.
In an economy of words to describe their son, Kelly offered: ”Determined, loyal and honest.”
“Those are good,” said Layne. “A headline would be something like ‘He’s been through some challenges that are well-documented, and he’s overcome all of them.’ He’s overcome obstacles and is very resilient. We all face obstacles in life, but he says to himself, ‘OK, I’m not going to let these pitfalls in life hold me back.’”
A huge assist in his life is his wife, Marissa, a former Miss Utah USA and third runner-up to Miss USA.
Former BYU football player Kyle Van Noy watches the game with his wife Marissa during the West Coast Conference Championships in Las Vegas Saturday, March 8, 2014. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
Said Layne, “She has taken over; she is the parent now.”
Kelly calls Marissa “the best thing that could ever happen” to Kyle.
“She understands his strengths and his weaknesses. She is beside him and dedicated to him and supports him in every aspect of his life.”
Layne: “She is a calming influence for Kyle. She understands him, and, when she gives him that look, he reacts to it and respects it and takes it into context. Nine times out of 10 it changes what he’s saying, doing or the way he’s acting.”
The Van Noys are moving to Utah this summer but currently have made a pit stop in Lodi, California, to care for Layne’s mother.
This journey to Minneapolis may have been a few thousand miles, but it has taken the Van Noys through many realms in this world.
It is not lost on them that Kyle’s birth mother had other choices but instead chose to deliver Kyle into this world and place him in the arms of loving parents who would do everything they could to make his life a success. Nobody knows what struggles this woman had. This unnamed, unknown mother may be watching the Super Bowl on Sunday and have no idea who Kyle Van Noy is. But she did choose life.
Kelly remembers upon Kyle’s arrival in their life, LDS Family Services provided them with a CD titled: “From God’s Arms to My Arms to Yours.”
It is so.
“That is part of Kyle’s journey,” said Layne. “ It’s been a blessing for all of us.”