Much more important than football however was Ben's academic experience. Ben had always been much too into his sports to worry about a silly thing like grades. As long as he was passing that was good enough for him and the only reason that was a concern was that if he didn't pass he couldn't play his sports. As a Junior Ben was a varsity player on the Football team, the Basketball team and the Volleyball team. He would have played more sports too if there had been another season in the year but alas, you can only squeeze so many sports into one school year. I'm not sure what it was but once Ben got to Snow he started getting A's and B's in his classes. It was a rather amazing thing to behold. The original plan was to take two semesters of school and then go on his mission but the coaches suggested to Ben that he leave on his mission as soon as possible and then he could be back in time for spring training so that is what we did. We were very fortunate with Ben that his mission call came while we were up there picking him up for Christmas. Since he wasn't going back to school we had to pack up all of his possessions. We were all in his apartment when he opened his call. He looked at it and then he announced, "I'm going to Mexico!". Since that is where Brandon was we all thought he was joking. Lisa said, "Yeah, right, where are you really going?". It took a while but he finally convinced us that he really had been called to Mexico. Brandon was in the Mexico Sinaloa mission and Ben was called to the Mexico, Guadalajara South mission. At their closest point the two missions are only a hundred miles or so apart but as far as the character of the mission is concern they are a world apart. Sinaloa is the drug capital and Guadalajara is the manufacturing capital. His mission actually included the south half of Jalisco, all of Michoacan, a small part of Guanajuato and all of Colima. Most of his mission was very devout Catholics. Almost fanatically so. He never once had to deal with the kind of violence and threats that Brandon did but he had to deal with some very angry Catholics who did not want them around. He had drunks throwing bottles of beer at him and that sort of thing.
I have some rental property in Pensacola, Florida. Unfortunately it was a direct hit by hurricane Ivan and I suffered severe damage. I learned the very hard lesson that hurricane insurance does not cover flood damage so I was severely under insured. Since Ben wasn't leaving on his mission until March and he was sitting at home with nothing to do I took the Month of February off and Ben and I went down and fixed up my house. It was a month of very hard work but what a wonderful experience it was to get to know my son in a way that you can't do in any other way.
One of the biggest tests that Ben had to deal with was near the end of his mission. His mission President pulled him to the side and told him that he would like Ben to extend his mission a month so he could call him to be the Assistant to the President. Of course it was never a really decision for Ben but in his heart he sort of knew that by staying he would miss most of spring training and quite possibly he was giving up his dream of college football.
Ben returned home from his mission and it was a wonderful reunion. He was also a changed man. He was bigger (hard to imagine) stronger and much wiser. He had gone from a boy to a man. That summer he just did odd jobs for friends and stuff because it was only a short while before he had to head up to Snow for summer training. During the short time he was home however he came to know the sister of one of his friends quite well. It wasn't too long before we started seeing much more of Sharley Cotter around the house. It didn't take me long to figure out that this was much more than just a summer fling. I asked him how he figured it was going to work with Sharley going to school at BYU in Idaho
and him in Ephraim Utah? He just assured me that they would make it work. They did too. Sharley totally wore out her car and they spent a ton of money on gas but before Thanksgiving Sharley had a shiny rock on her finger. they were married May 31, 2008. What a joy it is to have her as a member of the family.
It was during this year of school that Ben gave me another surprise. Consistent with his new found ability to get good grades Ben ended up setting the curve in his business law class. He was going for a business degree but he enjoyed this class so much that he has since decided that perhaps he will go for a law degree. All I've wanted is for one of my kids to become an engineer but now I may end up with two lawyers. What did I do to deserve this?
Ben's football team was undefeated for their entire year and was ranked number one in the nation (again). We actually went up to their play off game with Butler which was played in the U of U's football stadium. It is a wonderful facility but the game ended up being played in a blizzard. It was snowing so hard that they had to shovel clear the line of scrimmage before every single down. We could scarcely see the other side of the field. Unfortunately Snow plays a passing game and Butler plays a running game so Butler had a clear advantage playing in the blizzard and Snow lost their one and only game of the year. In any case, Ben still has a honking big ring on his finger.
At the end of the year Ben's coach told him that he was going to give the two starting wide receiver positions to a couple of black guys. Ben was so upset that he decided it was time to focus on more important things like his new wife and getting an education. Since he wasn't playing football anymore they decided to finish up Ben's AA degree in Mesa Arizona where Sharley has a lot of family. Ben now has two AA degrees from Mesa college and if he wants to apply for it he can get a third one from Snow. He graduated with straight A's and that is while carrying 15 credit hours and working part time at a mortuary. Pretty impressive for the boy who was happy with C's in High School. He is now attending school at Fullerton where they have a brand new business school and Sharley is finishing up her fine arts degree at Long Beach. It is really nice having them only 90 minutes up the highway. We see them often and I look forward to their visits. It makes it much easier to send our kids away when they stay close to home.
--------------------trivia--------------------World wide about 5,000 people have died from the Swine Flu. Every year in the United States alone about 36,000 people die from the seasonal flu.
What is Napoleon Dynamites brother Rico doing holding Ben when he was a baby?