Family. Football. Food. In Utah Valley, people are finding much to be thankful for, and the athletes who represent BYU are no exception. The Daily Herald spoke with several men and women, including members of BYU’s Elite Eight soccer team, which plays on Friday, about what they are thankful for.
Check out the video on the right to see more in-depth scenes of BYU athletes talking Thankgsiving (some of them are pretty funny).
Kyle Van Noy
BYU football, junior linebacker from Reno, Nev.
“I’m thankful most for where I’ve come in life through the trials, not only for myself but for my family. That’s what I’m thankful for because I think it’s shaped who our family is today and who I am as a person. I’ve gone through death in the family, friends I know being in jail, myself getting in trouble, the list goes on. I’m not happy it happened, but I’m grateful for who I became because of it and how I responded.”
BYU women’s soccer, senior forward from Pleasanton, Calif.
“I’m thankful for my team and coaches, as well as my family and my husband and their support. During the summer, my husband helped me train. He’s the biggest support. Before every game he gives me a scouting report for the other team. He’s always there for me and means a lot to me. For my success, it’s comforting to have him there all the time. I’m grateful for a lot of things right now, so I could go on forever.”
BYU men’s basketball, sophomore guard from Alpine
“They didn’t really celebrate Thanksgiving over there (in the Philippines) but it was something I thought about. I missed the family and I missed the good food. The emails afterwards were the worst emails to get. My dad would send me photos of going to Grandma’s house and tons of food everywhere. As a missionary, you don’t have that much food at all so I was pretty jealous.”
BYU football, freshman running back from Fontana, Calif.
“I’m most grateful for my mom and my family. My mom has gone to every game since we started this season and she has two more to go to. I can’t wait for her to be there because she is a great motivator for me. I look for her during the pre-game warmups and when I see her, I know where she is at. I know when I make a good play, I look over there and see her jumping up and down, saying, ‘that’s my baby!’ When I look at her having fun, it makes me have fun and love what I’m doing out there.”
— Ross Apo
BYU football, senior linebacker from McKinney, Texas
“I’m most thankful for my family, my parents and my sisters and my wife and my kid. My parents have always had my back and been in my corner with everything I’ve ever done. Whenever I came home mad or frustrated, or needed to be disciplined, they always took care of it. Now I have a kid of my own I realize kind of the effort it takes. I’m also thankful to be playing football and to be eating some good food.”
BYU women’s soccer, junior goalkeeper from Lake Forest, Calif.
“I’m extremely grateful for the team. My family is in Arizona, so being so far from them it’s great to have teammates that are like a second family who I can turn to for anything. Through the year I’ve seen all my teammates really step up for each other in different ways. I know each of them would have my back. I’m also very grateful for the weather, since it’s been very nice lately.”
BYU football, sophomore receiver from Arlington, Texas
“I’m thankful to still be playing. Guys get hurt all the time, so I’m thankful I can still run and play on this team. Anytime I come out the tunnel and see the fans screaming, I’m always thankful to be able to play another game. I love having my family come. I always look up in the stands to see. To know they are watching makes you want to play harder.”
BYU football, sophomore tight end from Upland, Calif.
“Right now I’m grateful for my dad and his health. Lately he’s been struggling with that and so it’s been a blessing for him to be able to overcome that. He had open heart surgery and some complications, so I’m grateful he was able to fight it and be back with us. We always had the Turkey Bowl in the morning and I wanted to be on the opposite team as my dad. There was a couple of times when I was little and I thought I could take him, but he ran me over. It was funny.”
BYU women’s soccer, senior defender from Logan
“My whole family has been great but my mom has been very supportive. She’s only missed five games in my entire soccer career for the past 16 years, home and away, so she’s been a great support. The ones that she missed were just for my brother’s weddings, so that’s a better excuse than my games. She’s been such a great support system and I can’t thank her enough for it.”
BYU women’s soccer, sophomore forward from Ogden
“I have a lot to be thankful for. I’m more than grateful to be at this wonderful school and have the opportunity to play for the program that I do. It’s great to have the fans we do and I’m so grateful for them. My favorite memory is walking out on South Field with all of our thousands of fans. Soccer is incredible and we have been doing so well, but the whole school atmosphere is incredible.”
— Katherine Snyder
BYU football, senior running back from Alpine
“I would say I’m thankful for the country we live in and the opportunity to have the freedom to choose our careers, choose our families, choose how many kids we have, be able to govern our own lives. I spent time in Brazil and experienced their culture. I realized was a blessing to have what we have here in the United States.”
BYU men’s basketball, sophomore guard from Scottsdale, Ariz.
“I’m thankful for family and all the blessing God has given me and the great people around me here at BYU. Thanksgiving always meant a lot of food and football, basically playing games and eating a lot. I played quarterback. They were calling me Elway at a young age. We were always out playing and having fun.”
BYU women’s soccer, sophomore forward from Henderson, Nev.
“I’m thankful to be in the Elite Eight with this team and be a part of this program. I don’t get to go home now, but going to the Elite Eight is nice. Last year we didn’t even have the opportunity to get in the tournament. Having just eight teams left is amazing. My family is coming up. I just found out and so I’m really excited because I thought I was going to be spending the holiday by myself.”
BYU football, senior defensive back from Pleasant Grove
“I’m thankful for second chances and people willing to be patient with you. Coaches throughout my life and people in leadership roles have given my second chances in a lot of different things.”
BYU men’s basketball, sophomore guard from Las Vegas, Nev.
“I’m definitely thankful for my family and my parents for bringing me into this world. We all went to my grandmother’s house for Thanksgiving and eat, enjoy each other’s company. She has the best cooking by far. We wouldn’t want to go anywhere else.”
BYU men’s basketball, freshman guard from Parker, Colo.
“My family always comes first for me. I have three little sisters, so it’s just me and my dad in the house for the guys. We have a family Turkey Bowl every year and it gets pretty intense. I have some cousins and uncles that are pretty competitive. I like to play quarterback and run the show a little bit.”
BYU men’s basketball, sophomore forward from Highland
“On Thanksgiving, it’s all about turkey and football. It’s relaxing and watching some games, but also being able to be with family. My wife and I are headed to my house to enjoy lots of food. My Grandpa Sharp’s stuffing is legendary, so I’m looking forward to having some of that.”
BYU football, senior defensive lineman from Oceanside, Calif.
“I’m just grateful to be at this university and the opportunity to have two more games left to play for BYU. I’m a senior right now so I’m just grateful for the chance to play football with these guys. I always hang out with the guys on the defensive line, in the film room, going to soccer games and volleyball games.”