BYU baseball: Lopez makes cut to final voting in Fan's Choice Award

By Ralph R. Zobell

For the Deseret News

Published: Monday, June 16 2014 3:42 p.m. MDT

BYU's Bret Lopez makes a catch at first base as Utan's Cory Hunt dives back as BYU and Utah play Tuesday, May 6, 2014 at Larry H. Miller field in Provo.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

Enlarge photo»

It is now a four-man race in the TD Ameritrade Fan's Choice Award, and BYU's Bret Lopez made the cut to round three.

In what started out as a 16-player ballot, Lopez advance to the second round of 12, with the winner being selected by a daily vote on Facebook for a July 3 live interview on ESPN during the NCAA Home Run Derby. Fans can vote daily for Lopez online.

The nominees have been selected not only for their baseball performance but also for their service contributions.

"Bret has exceptional leadership skills, some of the best we have worked with in the past 10 years," BYU Athletic Service Coordinator Bob Wakefield said. "He is married, but still finds time for his sport and studies. He wants to go to PA school after he graduates."

Lopez, a senior from Orem majoring in exercise science, plans to graduate this December now that his time as the Cougar designated hitter has come to an end. The honorable mention All-Academic West Coast Conference player plans to take the GRE in July and hopes to become a physician's assistant, so he begins applying for graduate programs in August.

Last fall he was acting president for BYU's Student Athletic Activities Council, serving as co-chair along with Liz Wilson of the track team.

In heading that service organization, he spoke at an Eagle Scout court of honor in Salt Lake City. Lopez was one of 10 Eagle Scouts on BYU's baseball team.

Lopez helped the SAAC and other Cougar athletes set up activities like Sports Hero Day for more than 1,000 elementary students last January 16.

"Those kids got to workout with sports teams [and] interact with student athletes to see that we are normal people and we could show them the dedication it takes to compete in college," Lopez said.

Another Cougar Council activity Lopez said he enjoyed was Sub for Santa.

"My favorite part of Cougar Council was helping out with Sub for Santa last Christmas," Lopez said. "We had fundraisers and made money for a family in need. We contacted local church bishops to identify families in need of help. We separated the names amongst us to give them a decent Christmas. Families were grateful and knew we were coming so that we could address their needs."

As SAAC co-chair he informed student athletes about upcoming legislation. He helped organize buddy teams, which would support another team at BYU. For instance, Lopez and the Cougar baseball team were paired with women's basketball.

Lately, Lopez has been working out with the younger brother of Cougar basketballer Skyler Halford.

"We grew up best friends in high school," Lopez said. "I'm helping his younger brother with baseball."

At 24 years old, Lopez, who teammates teased by calling him "grandpa", was one of six married players on BYU's baseball team. He has been married to Taryn Roberts for just over one year. She was a recreational therapist and worked at Telos Academy in Orem, a boy's treatment center.

"They started a sports program there," Lopez said. "I assisted them and told those youth how I found happiness and peace through baseball."

Lopez was one of 10 returned missionaries on BYU's baseball team. From 2008-10 he served one year in Puerto Rico and a year in Aruba and Curarco.

Ralph R. Zobell has worked for BYU Athletic Media Relations in various capacities for over 30 years. You can view his bio at byucougars.com/staff/athletics/ralph-zobell or contact him at ralph_zobell@byu.edu.

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