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Mormon athletes pay tribute to their fathers

Published: Sunday, June 15 2014 11:19 a.m. MDT

“They always did that. There was never a debate of going to one and not the other. They always went to all of them,” Guthrie said. “There was never a doubt.”

Sadly, their impeccable attendance record was broken when Guthrie started playing professional baseball.

One of the best games of Guthrie's professional career was on Father's Day in 2009. Pitching for the Baltimore Orioles, Guthrie held the World Series champion Philadelphia Phillies to three hits and two walks while retiring 19 of the final 22 batters. The Orioles won 2-1.

Steve Guthrie is not a man of many words, and quite frankly, he’s not the biggest baseball fan, his son said. But having him there, as he had been so many times, made it extra special for his son.

“Him just being there, saying ‘Good game’ and giving me a hug, meant a lot,” Guthrie said.

Noelle Pikus-Pace

Young Noelle Pikus-Pace was pitching in the second game of a softball double-header when the 12-year-old got into an argument with her coach, who also happened to be her father, Lee Pikus.

She had just walked two batters when her father started yelling, “Pitch a strike.”

“I’m trying to pitch a strike,” she yelled back.

“Well, just pitch a strike then,” he said.

“What do you think I’m trying to do?” she fired back. “I’m not trying to pitch a ball.”

“You better pitch a strike,” he persisted.

That was it. She dropped the ball on the mound and moved toward first base, where she informed her teammate they were switching positions.

“OK, I’m playing first and you go pitch. I can’t take it anymore,” she said. “He was pretty mad.”

The next day, father and daughter were on friendly terms again, playing pitch and catch in the backyard.

“He definitely had his moments where he pushed me to be a little more than I thought I could be,” Pikus-Pace said with a laugh.

Long before she won the silver medal in women’s skeleton at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, Pikus-Pace was coached and mentored by her father.

She has always loved and respected her father. Lee Pikus was raised in Duluth, Minnesota, by parents who were alcoholics. He eventually joined the LDS Church and became an electrical engineer. Over the years, he has demonstrated how to work hard and ignore the critics, Pikus-Pace said.

Although there were times when her father was “stubborn” and “demanding,” Pikus-Pace eventually grasped the life lessons he was teaching her. She would not have reached the Olympic medal stand without his help, Pikus-Pace said.

“He always expected me to be my best. … There were times when I couldn’t take the pressure he placed on me. The desire he had for me to succeed was a little overbearing at times,” Pikus-Pace said. “He pushed me to be better. He knew I could be better. Sometimes I didn’t see that. But I’m happy he pushed me.”

Bryan Kehl

Last October, Washington Redskins linebacker Bryan Kehl tore his left ACL in a Sunday Night Football game against the Dallas Cowboys, ending his sixth NFL season. The injury required the former BYU star to go to Pensacola, Florida, for surgery and rehabilitation.

“Who volunteered to come down there and stay for more than a week? Oh, my dad, Gary Kehl,” Bryan Kehl said with chuckle.

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