BYU Athletics Blog | December 2008 | Officially Home of Cougar Club

BYU Athletics Blog | December 2008

Las Vegas: Day 4

Dec 19, 2008 - Posted by Carey Hoki at 11:23 pm | Updated: May 2, 2011 3:35 pm | Permalink

Today started off with the team walk-through at Bishop Gorman High School. It lasted for about half an hour. Afterwards, Duff Tittle, Mark Philbrick and I jumped in the van and waited for coach Mendenhall, Max Hall and David Nixon to change into their suits and ties before heading off to the Las Vegas Convention Center for the Las Vegas Bowl press conference. As soon as we reached the convention center we rushed upstairs to the press conference where the media was awaiting our arrival. Coach and the players were joined by Arizona head coach Bob Stoops, receiver Mike Thomas and linebacker Ronnie Palmer.

An hour later the rest of the team arrived for the traditional bowl luncheon. Holly Rowe hosted the event while former NFL quarterback Joe Theismann was the keynote speaker. Before the luncheon began, Duff and I were busy finding BYU players who speak foreign languages for ESPN who is putting together a short package for the bowl game about the 84 return missionaries on our team and the high number of them who speak other languages. The players were asked to share a holiday message in their chosen language. We had representatives who spoke Mandarin Chinese, Samoan, Spanish, German, Portuguese and Hawaiian.

Following the luncheon we all returned to the hotel to relax before the fireside at 7 p.m.

Walk-on defensive lineman Steven Fisher and running back Wayne Latu were the players who spoke at the fireside. Fisher started his talk by sharing the scripture Matthew 7:12, "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets."

"Christ always treated everyone with kindness," shared Fisher. "He spent his time seeking out the one and serving others despite being ridiculed and mocked by others. He truly was the perfect example of kindness."

He shared several examples of when others in his life showed kindness, including a friend he had in the fourth grade and his father.

"Because of my father's kindness I am a totally different man than I would have been otherwise," said Fisher.

Before he gave his talk, Latu joined Harvey Unga, Travis Uale and Michael Alisa to perform an a capella musical number, "Sweet Spirit".

Latu's message focused on the three ways we can become a living testimony of the Savior. First, we cannot represent Christ if we don't know him.

"We need to take an active part in making the Gospel a reality for us," he said.

Secondly, we must put the Lord first. Latu shared a recent personal experience when he and his wife had their second child back in August. Birth complications forced their daughter, Kina, to remain in the hospital for several weeks. Together with his wife, they spent many sleepless nights at their daughter's bedside.

"We love those of whom we serve, those we sacrifice for the most," said Latu. "That same principle is true with our relationship with the Lord. We love the Lord most when we put him first in our lives and sacrifice for him."

Lastly, Latu said we must forget ourselves and go forth and serve. After we apply these three principles, we can truly become living testimonies of the Savior.

Las Vegas: Day 3

Dec 19, 2008 - Posted by Carey Hoki at 12:32 am | Updated: May 2, 2011 3:35 pm | Permalink

It was another busy day for the Cougars here in Las Vegas, starting with an early morning visit to the local children's hospital. BYU's Nate Hartung, Dustin Graham, Victor Unga, Steve McFarland and Lawrence Pico joined several members of the Arizona team at the hospital, where they made the rounds and spread some holiday cheer with the young patients. Cosmo was also there and was a big hit with a lot of the children. One particular young boy entertained everyone in the hallway as he tossed his new BYU football around.

The team held its second practice at Bishop Gorman High School later in the morning.

Due to yesterday's snowy weather schools were canceled for the day, causing the team to cancel the previously planned service projects in the afternoon. Because of that, the players had several hours to spend on their own.

At 5:30 p.m. the team boarded the buses and headed to Fremont Street where Outback sponsored a buffet for BYU and Arizona. The players and their wives enjoyed steak, rice, chicken and salad while the DJ tried to convince some of the players to come up and dance onstage. Both Brandon Howard and Justin Sorensen shared their dancing skills with those in attendance.

Hopefully I'll get some photos from today posted tomorrow morning before the events of the day get in full swing. Stay tuned!

Las Vegas: Day 2

Dec 18, 2008 - Posted by Carey Hoki at 1:43 am | Updated: May 2, 2011 3:35 pm | Permalink

The team was kept busy on its first full day here in Las Vegas. It began with practice this morning at Bishop Gorman High School, home of the Gaels. We were all surprised at the cold and snowy weather, reminiscent of the climate we left behind in Provo.

Following a few hours of free time, the players and coaches boarded the buses again, heading to ESPN Zone located in the New York New York Hotel & Casino. Due to the poor weather conditions, the usual outdoor festivities were moved indoors. Following a few opening remarks from Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl executive director Tina Kunzer-Murphy, players from both BYU and Arizona were free to eat and play games, while the media had chances to conduct interviews.

Cougars Brandon Howard and Brock Richardson competed in the "So You Think You Can Dance" contest against two Arizona players. While the Wildcats came out on top, BYU was victorious in the pie-eating contest as linebacker Jeff Bell was the first of six contestants to finish his pie first.

After arriving back at the team hotel, tickets to "Stomp Out Loud" were handed out and the entire team and their spouses filed into the theater to find their seats. Howard, Michael Reed, Terrance Hooks and Brandon Bradley were invited to stay after the show and join four Arizona players as the "Stomp" cast taught them a few moves. Keep an eye out for that on "Cougar Diaries". Trust me, you don't want to miss it.

With the day's official activities finished for the day, players enjoyed time relaxing in the hospitality room, where an ice cream stand serving BYU Creamery ice cream satisfied many of the late-night snack cravings.

Las Vegas: Day 1

Dec 17, 2008 - Posted by Carey Hoki at 12:33 pm | Permalink

So we all finally made it down to Las Vegas, hoping to escape the snow and cold weather but it seemed to have followed us. It's currently 36-degrees and snowing here at Bishop Gorman HS where the team is practicing.

The team got in later than expected last night, due to poor weather conditions and complications at the airport. Scheduled to fly out of Provo Airport, the team ended up leaving from Salt Lake. Upon their arrival, players and coaches ate dinner at the Spice Market Buffet, a complimentary buffet in our hotel, the Planet Hollywood.

The team had free time the rest of the night, with some of them opting to play video games in the hospitality room located in one of the hotel conference rooms.

Throughout our week here in Vegas Lane Olson and I hope to provide photos and tidbits of information so you can keep up with what the team's doing. Every evening we hope to have a new entry up. Enjoy bowl week!

Pre-Bowl Fireside Announcement

Dec 10, 2008 - Posted by Carey Hoki at 3:49 pm | Permalink

The team will hold its traditional pregame fireside on Friday, Dec. 19, the night prior to the Las Vegas Bowl. The fireside will begin at 7 p.m. at the Henderson Green Valley Stake Center. Coach Bronco Mendenhall, his wife Holly and volunteer team members will speak and provide musical numbers. Youth and adults are invited to attend.

Henderson Green Valley Stake Center

410 Valle Verde Drive

Henderson, Nevada 89014

Newcomer Questionnaire: O'Neill Chambers

Dec 08, 2008 - Posted by Carey Hoki at 2:41 pm | Updated: May 2, 2011 3:35 pm | Permalink

During Fall Camp I sat down to talk with several of the newcomers on the 2008 BYU team, and asked them, among other things, why they decided to come to BYU and what they were looking forward to the most in the months and years to come.

O'Neill Chambers

Harmony, Florida

Wide Receiver

Where do you fall in your family?

I’m the second youngest. I have three sisters and two brothers.

What made you decide to come play here at BYU?

It was something new and they have a good program. They throw the ball a lot. I used to have dreams about coming here, so it’s something I wanted to do.

Do you know what you want to study here at BYU?

Mathematics and engineering.

Is there a veteran member of the team that you look up to?

Terrance Hooks.

What is your favorite football memory?

It would have to be my freshman year, playing in my first game and making my first catch on varsity.

Who has been your greatest football influence?

My mom and my dad. Professionally, Terrell Owens and Chad Johnson.

What are you looking forward to the most as a BYU football player?

Coming out here and having fun. Hopefully accomplish my goals and the team goals, and get my degree here.

What’s your favorite movie and why?

“Love and Basketball” because basketball is my second sport. It has a lot of meaning to it and it comes to heart every time I watch it.