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LDS Church News

Student athletes find blessings through seminary service

By Jason Swensen

LDS Church News

Published: Saturday, May 17 2014 12:30 a.m. MDT

Logan (Utah) High School's Chase Nelson celebrates his touchdown run past Roy High in prep football in Logan Sept. 20, 2013.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

LOGAN, UTAH

Last year, Chase Nelson and Taylor Compton were asked to serve on Logan (Utah) High School’s Seminary Council.

It would have been understandable if either young man had respectfully declined. Both are decorated student athletes who were preparing at the time for busy senior years on the Grizzly sports teams. But both Chase and Taylor accepted their respective callings — then put their all into their seminary duties even as they excelled in athletics.

“It’s been a pleasure having them on the council and in class,” said seminary teacher David Low. “They have been a real blessing.”

Thanks to some savvy time management, they’ve also excelled this year on the gridiron, the hardwood and the diamond. Both Chase and Taylor earned all-state honors in football. As quarterback, Chase threw for 41 touchdowns and for more than 3,100 yards. His favorite receiver, Taylor, caught 15 touchdowns and recorded some 1,200 receiving yards.

Once football season ended, Taylor moved to the basketball court while Chase — an all-state pitcher and outfielder — prepared for his final high school baseball season.

Students and teachers at Logan High know all about Chase and Taylor’s athletic exploits. “But they are not defined by sports,” Brother Low said. “They are defined by their faith, their goodness and their happiness.”

The seminary teacher is quick to add that Chase and Taylor are “mere representatives” of many Latter-day Saint young men and young women in his seminary classes — and throughout the world. In a day when youth wage daily battles with bullying, entitlement, pornography and several other challenges, Brother Low said he’s uplifted each day by the positive actions of his students, including Chase and Taylor.

Both young men seemed reluctant to talk about themselves with the Church News, focusing instead on the support and guidance they’ve received from their fellow students, teachers and family members.

“I have nothing but gratitude for the opportunity that I’ve had in seminary council to develop as a person and serve others,” Taylor said.

When Chase looks back on his senior year of high school, he will surely remember the highs and lows that define athletics. But he will also relish memories of serving on the seminary council and seeing testimonies grow.

“We put on a Logan Seminary Conference that was [patterned] after general conference,” he said of one experience. “We had talks and testimonies, and the Spirit was so strong.”

Both young men said their senior year has been deeply impacted by the Church’s 2012 policy that changed the age for missionaries. Chase has received a call to the England Manchester Mission. Taylor will leave this summer to serve in the Argentina Buenos Aires South Mission.

“Many students at the high school have already received their calls, and it has changed the whole school,” Chase said. “It’s changed how people behave, knowing they have been called to serve a mission.”

Taylor added that he’s witnessed a new spiritual maturity among his mission-bound classmates.

“We know that we’re together now, but in a few months, we’ll all be serving in different areas throughout the world,” he said.

Brother Low agreed that the mission-age policy has impacted the entire seminary. The young men who have received mission calls are dedicated to their preparations. Their classmates, meanwhile, are blessed by their devoted, missionary-minded examples.

Chase and Taylor are focusing on finishing strong at Logan High and then enjoying successful two-year missions. When Chase returns, he’ll decide if he wants to become a physician or a seminary teacher like Brother Low, whom he calls “one of my best friends.”

Taylor, meanwhile, plans to attend Utah State University and study business. He hopes to play football for the Aggies.

jswensen@deseretnews.com