BYU Athletic Director Tom Holmoe tells about his Mormon conversion
“When I wasn’t playing football in the NFL, I went to church,” Holmoe said. “I was really stubborn and prideful and fearful of what other people might think.”
Holmoe finished his career at BYU with 13 interceptions and was named as an all-conference defensive back in 1982. He was selected in the fourth round of the 1983 NFL draft by the San Francisco 49ers.
During Holmoe’s time in San Francisco, the 49ers won the Super Bowl in 1984, 1988 and 1989. He was part of a fourth Super Bowl as a 49ers’ assistant coach in 1994.
During that time, he continued to attend church meetings and study the gospel. He even entertained visits from home teachers.
Among a wide variety of personalities and backgrounds in an NFL locker room, Holmoe appreciated associating with men like former Cougars who were also Mormons like Steve Young, Bart Oates, Todd Shell, Bill Ring and others.
“Those guys were rock-solid, stable, very good people and friends. I wasn’t a member, but we talked about it (the gospel),” Holmoe said. “They knew I went to church and tried to help me in my conversion process. They were great examples.”
Following the 1987 season, Holmoe was approached by his ward’s bishop, Jordan Clements, who asked Holmoe if he had ever fasted before.
Fasting involves going without food and drink voluntarily for a certain period of time for the purpose of drawing closer to God and requesting blessings.
“He explained it to me and said, ‘I think you are close and this might help the Spirit testify to you,’ ” Holmoe said. “So I did. I just kept praying and praying. I didn’t feel anything at the time, but three weeks later I was in Utah and that’s when it happened.”
A clear impression
In February 1988, Holmoe was walking around BYU’s campus, visiting coaches and old friends, when he felt a “clear impression” that the time had come for him to be baptized.
He placed an emotional call to Joe Wood, a favorite religion/history professor and close friend, and asked what he should do.
Wood directed him to BYU’s longtime equipment manager, Floyd Johnson, who gave Holmoe a big hug and directed him to find the missionaries on campus.
When he informed the missionaries of his desire to be baptized, the missionaries tried to tell him he needed the discussions first.
“No, no, we are not having any discussions,” Holmoe laughed. “I’ve already had them about four times. I need to get baptized now!”
A week later, Holmoe was baptized in a font in a classroom in the Jesse Knight Building by his father-in-law, Joseph Wright.
"It was a beautiful service," Johnson wrote in his book, "Touchdowns, Tip-offs and Testimonies." "As Tom bore his testimony, I sat there trying to hold back the tears while listening to him talk about his faith in the Lord the church and of his experience of coming back here and having the Spirit whisper that he should be baptized."
Holmoe knew his parents and family would not be happy about his decision so he didn’t tell them right away. Instead, he wrote them a letter, explaining his feelings and reasons for making the decision.
During their weekly phone call, the subject didn’t come up. Holmoe’s father eventually raised the subject a few months later in a conversation with his son.
“I guess you got baptized," Holmoe recalls his father saying. "You know, I think that’s good. It’s probably best for you. Your wife is LDS, and it’s good that your family is unified in the same religion.
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