Sliding into Success - Y Magazine
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BYU Today

Sliding into Success

Dave Jensen

For Dave Jensen, hard work has high payoffs in baseball and in life.

By Aimee H. Hansen, ‘02

DAVID C. Jensen, ’04, glanced anxiously at his watch. It was almost time. After a few tense minutes, Mike Brown, a scout for the Kansas City Royals, entered BYU‘s baseball complex where Jensen awaited him. As family and friends watched and snapped pictures, Jensen signed the contract he had been working toward for as long as he could remember.

Earlier that month, as Jensen was finishing up another season at BYU, the Royals had drafted the 6-foot-3, 210-pound first baseman in the third round. He had been drafted twice before—right out of high school by the Reds in the 34th round and by the Indians in the 17th round toward the end of his mission for the Church of Jesus Christ—but he had declined both offers. This time, though, Jensen was ready to accept.

“I’m anxious to get out there and start my pro career,” he says. “Playing pro ball is going to be a challenge—I know what I’m in for, but I’m ready.”

Many questioned Jensen’s wisdom in turning down his first two pro opportunities, but he has never regretted his decisions. After he graduated from high school in Henderson, Nev., Jensen’s parents encouraged him to develop himself intellectually and spiritually and to acquire the tools he would need for life before going pro. Jensen has spent the past five years doing just that.

As a freshman, Jensen was a valuable asset to Cougar baseball. His hopes for his future career were high, but the question of serving a mission hung over him. “I was never the type of kid who was gung ho about going on a mission,” Jensen says, “but everything clicked for me at the right time, and I knew I should go.” He sent in his mission papers—though many told him he was throwing away his career—and soon he was serving in Uruguay.

The work ethic and strength of character Jensen developed on his mission are manifest in his everyday life. Brown says, “Dave has got a keen eye—he sees where he wants to go and knows how to get there. Dave maximizes his time each day doing what needs to be done, whether that’s tending to his friends or family, his religious devotion, or his game.”

Since his mission Jensen has worked overtime to regain the strength, weight, and skills that declined while he was gone. And though the first part of the 2002 season was difficult for him, Jensen finished with a .411 batting average, 108 hits, 69 RBI‘s, 29 doubles, 10 home runs, and only nine errors out of 534 chances. He received numerous awards while playing at BYU, including both athletic and academic All-American citations. He was recently selected as Mountain West Conference Co-Player of the Year and as Most Valuable Player of the NCAA Regionals.

Jensen is committed to his education. “I’m going to try to do some independent study classes on the road,” he says. “School might end up being delayed, but I will graduate.” He has chosen to pursue a degree in international studies because of his love for Spanish, his mission language, and plans to either attend law school or get an MBA.

Jensen acknowledges the positive influence that his family, friends, and coaches have had on him and also recognizes the way that his mission has blessed him. “My time in Uruguay really got me focused on life,” he says. “When I came home I had a lot of drive in me to be successful, whether it was in baseball, schoolwork, church callings, or anything else. I’m excited to see what lies ahead now. I know I need to work hard and do what’s right, and things will work out.”