As one of the famous BYU “Quarterback Factory” quarterbacks, an NFL quarterback and now a member of the LDS Church’s First Quorum of the Seventy, S. Gifford Nielsen has visited a lot of places.
He said, however, that he has great memories of his time at Provo High School in the early 1970s.
“We spent a lot of time in those halls and in the gym but the most important thing that happened to me wasn’t athletics,” Nielsen said. “It was walking to seminary with a young woman who was eventually going to become my wife. All the contests were great but I became a really close friend to Wendy, who became my eternal companion. When you go all the way back to your time in high school, the athletic part was amazing. But when you think about the significance of the relationships you had with your classmates and teachers and leaders, it’s pretty special.”
He recalled, with pride, the amount of talent the Bulldogs had, particularly in football and basketball.
“We were blessed with an exceptional class in 1973,” Nielsen said. “We had high goals, so in athletics our goal was to win state championships. We had very talented kids and so it seemed like the school excelled in everything. We had tremendous teams, tremendous talent and tremendous coaches.”
He recalled the disappointment of a tough state title football game at Cougar Stadium at BYU (now LaVell Edwards Stadium) where Provo lost to Kearns, but the Bulldogs bounced back to win the championship in basketball.
The most important thing to Nielsen was the depth of the friendships that developed during that time.
“When I think back, we just had an exceptionally close class,” he said. “When we get together, it’s like we never left. We had a lot of deep friendships. We all went separate ways but when we come back for a reunion, it is just deeply special for all of us. We felt total support with wherever their talent took them. That was one of the beauties of Provo High, so when you talk about moving it to a new location, there are tender feelings about that. I feel richly blessed to have been able to have what we had.”