First Person

First Person: Saturday Warriors

Students drop their books for balls and cleats, thrilling victories, and memorable defeats.

Two cartoon characters playing intramural flag football. One is tackled just as he is about to catch the football.
Illustration by Travis Foster

Who Will Claim This Husband?

By Michael K. Whitmer (BS ’79), West Valley City, UT

As my wife and I moved into our first married student ward in 1978, I was excited to join the ward flag-football team. I was confident the team and I were destined for greatness—until the first game.

At the end of a very tight contest, I received a pass and found myself ahead of all but one defender, who slipped while positioning himself to grab my flag. I hopped over him and continued unimpeded into the end zone.

Turning to glory in the moment, I met the steely gaze of a student official who negated the touchdown for “jumping to escape the opponent” (an odd rule of intramural football). My ensuing reaction resulted in my ejection from the game; further reactions (nothing foul) led to my ejection from the field.

Unbeknownst to me, during this tirade the players’ wives on the sideline were trying to determine who the unruly fellow on the field belonged to. When the question came to my new bride, she was so embarrassed that she quietly replied, “I don’t know him either.”

As we became better known in the ward, several were quick (in similar circumstances) to remind me to hold my tongue, which was of great help then and for the last 40 years. Oh, and my wife did eventually claim me as her beau.


Mother Knows Best

By Jamison A. Peterson (BS ’16), Salt Lake City

At 6 feet 2 inches and 150 pounds, I wasn’t exactly built for football. In high school Mom encouraged me to go out for basketball, soccer, and choir; she was afraid football would snap me in two. But moms worry too much, right?

One month into my freshman year at BYU, I was lined up on the flag-football field. With the snap of the ball to the QB, I took off down the field. I cut to the right and pulled ahead of my defender. The ball was soaring toward me, cutting through the air in a perfect spiral. Hands outstretched, I awaited the satisfaction of a successful catch. Any second . . . THUD. I spun once and hit the ground, struggling to breathe. Someone had hit me hard. Players gathered around me to see if I was all right. “I’m good,” I assured them. I had to be tough for my pals, not to mention the girls who were watching the game.

The game ended, and I staggered home. I woke up at 3 a.m. with a deep pain in my gut. Next thing I knew I was in the ER wearing a gown and being numbed by morphine. It took one year, three major surgeries, two more ER visits, and a 7-inch scar to heal my severed pancreas, six hernias, a ruptured spleen, and damaged intestines.

Should have listened to Mom.


Shirts Before Swine

By Lindsay Harline Rampton (BA ’09), Meridian, ID

I played with my cousins and friends on a women’s flag-football team called the Princesses. My cousin was a great quarterback, and a few other girls were good receivers, so we rocked the middle division, despite my complete lack of football knowledge and gusto. My main role was to show up so we weren’t forced to forfeit. I’m not one to brag, but I was pretty good at it.

The one regular-season game we lost was gut-wrenching for my cousins, marginally bothersome for me. In the playoffs we lost again to the same team, but due to double elimination we still made it to the championship, held on an early Saturday morning. Since my cousins really wanted those championship T-shirts, and since families are forever, I sacrificed Saturday sleep to be that extra body that separates the champions from the shirtless forfeits. It turned out I wasn’t even needed on the field, so I sat out the whole game quite contentedly, despite jeers from sideline husbands and boyfriends to “get some championship playtime.”

And wouldn’t you know it—we won and got our legendary T-shirts. My father-in-law (who has only sons) was so proud he mailed me a football-shaped picture frame for a picture of the team and dubbed me the “son he always wanted.”

But alas, to put it biblically, I was the swine, and those intramural T-shirts were the pearls.

An illustration of a student holding up a T-shirt that says
Illustration by Travis Foster

The Shirt Off My Back

By Aaron J. Tolson (BA ’95, BS ’95), Idaho Falls, ID

We had just moved into Wymount as newlyweds. I was asked to put together a softball team, and a number of guys from our ward signed up. But when the first game arrived, we were short players.

I started ransacking the complex to find anyone. With a few minutes to spare, we needed just one more player. There was the new guy who had just moved in, a non-LDS foreigner, but any port in a storm.

I knocked on his door, and his wife answered and talked him into going, but he didn’t have a T-shirt. I ran to my apartment and saw that all I had to lend him was a prized T-shirt I got for eating a large sandwich in a short time at a local restaurant. It guaranteed me a free drink every time I returned. I hesitated but decided to make a sacrifice for the team.

We put our new friend out of the action in right field. On the first play of the game, a ball got hit out to him, and he tripped, fell, and broke his collarbone. His wife yelled at me as she ran to him, “What have you done to my husband?”


All Fun and Names

By Annie Reynolds Packard (BA ’06), Carlsbad, CA

My roommate wanted to put together a softball team for the spring term but had a class when the intramural office posted schedules for sale. Even though I was going home for the spring term, I volunteered to wait in line and purchase a team for her. As I was filling out the paperwork, I realized my roommate hadn’t given me a team name. I quickly wrote something in and then passed the team’s schedule to my grateful roommate without mentioning the name.

She called me a couple of weeks later to report that the team had arrived for their first game and laughed when they heard the supervisor call out, “We All Have Big Noses, please check in! Big Noses, check in here!” It wasn’t until later that they realized that they, not their opponents, were Team We All Have Big Noses.


THE MENTOR WHO MADE A DIFFERENCE

Nobody makes it to the Marriott Center in cap and gown without some guidance along the way. In classrooms, wards, labs, and campus jobs, students rely on the wisdom and examples of those who have been around the quad a few times. Who guided you through the maze of your major, helped you discover your passion, got you back on that horse, or cheered you along? Share your stories of mentors who made a difference. Deadline: Dec. 4.

BYU Magazine pays $50 for stories published in First Person. Send anecdotes of up to 300 words in length to firstperson@byu.edu. Submissions may be edited for length, grammar, appropriateness, and clarity.

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