View a short video of missionaries rehearsing the national anthem at the end of this story.
SAN ANTONIO — Elder Trevor James Treasure returned last week from his two years of service with a Texas-sized mission story.
Former San Antonio Spurs' standout Sean Elliott is likely to be talking about his somewhat-related experience from the same night for quite some time as well.
With 18 other missionaries, Treasure had the chance of a lifetime to perform the national anthem before a Spurs basketball game against the Utah Jazz earlier this month.
Judging from the packed crowd's thunderous ovation at the AT&T Center, the choir from the Texas San Antonio Mission and its patriotic harmony and powerful sound were well received by the 18,000-plus fans in attendance.
"This is the highlight of the mission, for sure," joked Treasure, who has since returned to his home in Ogden, Utah.
The splendid-sounding "The Star Spangled Banner" wasn't the only highlight provided by LDS Church members at this particular Spurs game.
Elliott, an Alamo area icon and current San Antonio broadcaster, received a family tree from local LDS leaders during a special halftime presentation on this unofficial Mormon Night at the Spurs game.
"We wanted to find a way to help raise the profile of the church in terms of family history," said Doug Clark, the LDS Church's multistake public affairs director in San Antonio. "And this looked like a great way to do it."
The ex-NBA player and his wife, Claudia, agreed to participate, and professional genealogist Jim Bratt, of the Stone Oak Ward in the San Antonio Texas North Stake, helped Elliott track his ancestors back five generations on each ancestral line.
Elliott seized the opportunity to reminisce about his family history with his parents. The framed family tree displayed in his home will provide conversation for years to come, no doubt.
"This has been a unique experience for me. I would recommend this for everybody," Elliott told the thousands of Spurs fans at the game. "You know, going back and learning about your family tree and seeing where you came from has really done wonders for my family and brought my family together."
Not only did it spark dialogue during the searching process, which initially had some dead-ends, but Elliott and his father talked for two hours on the phone about the genealogical findings the night before this event took place.
"Our family tree is really something sensational," Elliott said. "I'll tell you what, I liked being touched by your guys' wonders for bringing my family together, and I am just very appreciative."
Clark was told that an advance article in the San Antonio Express-News featuring the event generated inquiries for contact information on the church's family history centers.
Also, neighbors, friends and less-active members who accompanied the several hundred LDS members at the game were "very favorably impressed," Clark added.
That aptly describes how the Spurs' staffer who oversees national anthem performances felt about the choir as well. Missionaries from eight U.S. states, a sister from American Samoa and an elder born in Congo auditioned for the group, which gave one of the top 10 performances the employee has witnessed in his 16 years on this job.
Elliott met briefly with the missionaries before the game and shook their hands during their rehearsal.
Little did he or appreciative Spurs' fans realize, but they actually cheered on a few Jazz fans in that great-sounding group.
"Huge, huge Jazz fans," Treasure said, grinning.
Loyal ones, too.
"No, I don't think I'll be converting into a Spurs fan," jokingly added fellow missionary, Elder Jake Isaac, of Spanish Fork, Utah. "I'll stay where I am."
The choir, led by a missionary director, received tickets to the Jazz-Spurs game (and permission to attend). The missionaries had the opportunity to sit courtside and watch the teams warm up.
Though their team went on to lose 111-102, the Jazz fans really enjoyed that pre-tipoff part.
Isaac said he got butterflies in his stomach being that close to Jeff Hornacek, a former Jazz great who is now an assistant coach with Utah.
Elder Sam Lake, of Taylorsville, Utah, was equally thrilled.
"It was crazy. Watching Jeff Hornacek feeding them balls, I was like, 'Oh, man, I remember this guy. I watched him when I was a kid,'" Lake said. "It's pretty intense. I never thought I would do this, that's for sure."
In one of the towns Isaac served in, the LDS family history center was one of the most popular topics people commented on and expressed interest about in relation to the church.
"Even though they weren't members of the LDS Church," Isaac said, "they used the family history center at the church, a lot of the people that we knocked into. It's pretty common."
But an experience like this — to sing the national anthem at an NBA game as a missionary, with your favorite team in the arena, and getting to watch and meet former well-known players?
Not so common.
"It's pretty much every missionary's dream just to break away from the pattern for a little bit," Lake admitted. "It's pretty cool."
But even with their NBA team in town — or teams (seems Treasure now likes the Spurs, too) — the missionaries had their priorities straight.
With a smile, Lake added: "I've got lots of pass-along cards to hand out."
Not to mention a pretty good missionary tale to tell.
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