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No. 8 BYU’s head coach and three of his best players slid so easily between talking about football and prayer during a recent Zoom meeting with reporters that I had a lot left in my notebook after writing about their remarkable postgame prayer with Boise State after a recent game.
- Coach Kalani Sitake:
“We can pray, so we do. We pray as a team and we pray as a program. That’s a big part of what we do. We’re allowed to do that, so we’re gonna take advantage of it. … It doesn’t say that there’s a limit to it so, yeah, we’re gonna pray often and make sure we do it as much as possible, and coaches probably stretch the limits to that a little bit more.”
- Freshman tight end Isaac Rex, who has more touchdown catches (six) than all but 15 players in the nation and served a Latter-day Saint mission in Samoa:
“Well, honestly, prayer is like a very important aspect of my life, and I love being able to talk to my Heavenly Father and receive his guidance. When you pray, it’s kind of like receiving coaching from coaches. When you receive that revelation from God, it’s kind of like getting feedback from your coaches on what you can do better and how you’re improving and also how much he loves you.
“Every time a coach gives you feedback, it’s kind of like he’s showing his love for you because he wants you to be better and to grow as a person. I feel like that’s the same with prayer. When you receive revelation from our Heavenly Father, from the Lord, you know that he wants you to be better and he loves you and he cares for you. I love being able to talk to my Heavenly Father and to receive guidance from Him and also the revelation that I can receive. Being able to pray is a lot like football in some ways and it’s also a really cool experience for all of us to grow closer to our Heavenly Father.”
- Junior wide receiver Gunner Romney, who ranks 12th in the country in receiving yards with 648:
“One thing that intrigued me to come in here is the religion aspect. We pray before meetings every single day, and in practice all throughout the week, we open up with a prayer, and before games we all get together and say a prayer, and then after games, we give our gratitude to God. So that’s one thing that’s really cool, and I think it’s brought us together pretty close as a team.”
On joining other teams in postgame prayers on the field:
“I love them, getting together and just showing gratitude to be able to play the game that we love, just showing gratitude for all the blessings that we’ve been given just to be in the positions that we’re in to have the opportunities that we have to play football.”
- Junior offensive lineman Brady Christensen, who served a mission in New Zealand and is ranked by Pro Football Focus among the best 100 prospects in the upcoming NFL draft:
“Prayer is a huge aspect of my life. I always tend to set three or four goals a year that I’m trying to accomplish. One of my goals always involves football. I’m always praying to ask God to help me with that goal, to continue to strive to reach it and always to keep it in my mind. It’s huge, just to keep a close relationship with our Heavenly Father. It’s big for me, and I just try to keep a good perspective on everything, because sometimes you get so caught up with, ‘Oh, I didn’t play good’ or ‘I played really good,’ but sometimes in life — football’s important, but there’s also bigger things in life than just football.”
- Boise State cornerback Avery Williams, who was the 2019 Mountain West special teams player of the year:
On personal prayer:
“Prayer daily is a big part of my life, and I’d encourage others to do that as they’re going through anything. Or even if they’re not, if things are good, because something Pastor Mark (Thornton) always talks to us about is, ‘Adversity will hit in your life at some point, and like anything you need to prepare, and you can prepare with prayer and Bible study so that you know you’re not alone when that time comes.’”
On attending chapel and Bible study as a team:
“We’re all taking notes. Here in football you know you got to get better, you got to take notes on how to get better. That goes for our faith. There’s always room to grow. There’s always a relationship to build with God. Football’s very stressful at times. You can get off track, so chapel is a great time to get back and get aligned with God. You look around the room, players are taking notes, coaches are taking notes and we’re all progressing, you know, becoming better men of God.”
- Boise State team Pastor Mark Thornton:
“I’m just always appreciative of any team or any coach who will allow his players to come out and pray with the other team afterward and make sure we’re keeping the main thing the main thing, because I’m like, ‘Hey, we play for an audience of one, for the glory of God.’ So you play for your team, but there’s a higher purpose here.”
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