This archived article was written by: Chase Castleberry
Can you imagine leaving a sport you love behind to serve a two year LDS mission? This year, the Golden Eagles baseball team has five players making this extremely difficult adjustment.
Sports have always helped athletes on and off the field. Baseball helped clutch hitter, Tyson Hutchens on his mission in New York. Hutchens explains, “On my mission it was hard to be motivated when I was discouraged, but baseball really helped me have a competitive nature, and to continue to keep working harder.” Hutchens is striving to be an example to other athletes contemplating about a mission. He said, “A reason why I wanted to keep playing when I got home was to prove to people that players can still serve the Lord and still keep playing.”
Living in a different country is a tough adjustment; catcher, Jake Chlarson, served his mission in the Dominican Republic. Chlarson explained, “Coming home was difficult because I was no longer around the people I grew to love [the Dominican people].” However, after returning home, Chlarson was eager to get back in the game. He said, “My mission opened my eyes to see how special baseball was to me by not having it for two years. My love for the game has grown.”
Taking a two-year break from anything is a hard adjustment, but for pitcher, Mitch Dahl, this was not a challenge but an opportunity. After coming home from Sacramento, California, Dahl was ready to work. He explained, “I’ve tried to step back and see ‘the big pitcher [SIC]’ on the field, to see what the team wants to accomplish, instead of my own individual effort.” Regardless of his two year break, he said, “I feel like I’m better than I was in high school. I’m more mature in the game; I have ‘man strength rather than boy strength.’”
Often times, missionaries want to hang up their cleats and just quit, but for first basemen, Greg Money, this was not an option. Serving in Omaha, Nebraska, Money finished his mission saying, “I want to keep playing because we only have a small time-window after a mission to keep playing, so I wanted to take advantage of this time to keep playing.” Money’s attitude and ambition has helped him overcome the challenges return missionaries go through. He said, “When I came home my muscle memory wasn’t there anymore and my arm was sore, but now I feel like I’m bigger, a little faster.”
After serving in his mission in Micronesia, Guam, middle infielder, Luke Madsen has enjoyed his time at USU Eastern. He expresses his love for the school by saying, “I like how most of the teachers care and are concerned for our success. You’re able to have a relationship with everyone on campus.” Madsen also met his wife Morgan, who plays for the basketball team here on campus. Madsen has enjoyed playing for coach Madsen, and says, “I love how understanding Coach Madsen is, He was more than happy to have me come out and try out here after my mission. He’s just been good to me in that aspect.”
These five Golden Eagles are now taking off their name tags and putting on their gear. They each loved their missions and are excited for the season.