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BYU football program always emphasizing gratitude

By Jared Lloyd - | Nov 24, 2021
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BYU head coach Kalani Sitake takes a selfie with some Cougar fans after a 66-49 victory against Virginia on Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021. (BYU Courtesy Photo)
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BYU head coach Kalani Sitake leads the band in the fight song after the 59-14 Cougar win over Idaho State at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo on Saturday, Nov. 6 ,2021. (Courtesy BYU Photo)
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BYU coach Kalani Sitake (right) talks to his team about running back Tyler Allgeier after a 27-17 victory against Arizona State on Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021. (BYU Courtesy Photo)
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BYU head coach Kalani Sitake celebrates with his team during the game against Arizona at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas on Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021. (BYU Courtesy Photo)
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Brigham Young Cougars head football coach Kalani Sitake signs memorabilia during Alumni Day on Friday, April 1, 2016 at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo. DOMINIC VALENTE, Daily Herald

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Kalani Sitake celebrates with players during the BYU football game at Navy in Annapolis, Maryland, on Monday, Sept. 7, 2020.

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BYU head coach Kalani Sitake greets fans at Neyland Stadium on a road trip to Knoxville in 2019.

When we can step back from focusing on the traditional feasting or the rampant consumerism that is holiday sales, Thanksgiving should give us a chance to realize all the good things in life, the things we are most thankful for.

The BYU football team, however, doesn’t need a holiday to do that.

It’s something that Cougar head coach Kalani Sitake has sought to make one of the fundamental principles of his program.

“It’s part of the values that we have,” Sitake said during Monday’s teleconference. “Humility allows you to learn. I think you can never say thank you too much. I want these guys to be focused on that.”

He believes that it’s not a difficult thing to emphasize because the players already have that trait when they get to Provo.

“They are a thankful group and so they have tons of gratitude,” Sitake said. “It’s the way they’ve been raised. I just want to keep reminding them why they’re here and who they represent.”

BYU junior defensive back Kaleb Hayes said that in his experiences the Cougars put more emphasis on being thankful than other places do.

“We speak about it like every day,” Hayes said. “It’s like literally every day, like in meetings after practice, like even when we are off the field. We talk about gratitude, that love and learning is a real thing. We really do believe it.”

He said he thinks Sitake has made the culture one where the players have come to expect it.

“We like to give,” Hayes said. “We like to show respect to our fans, to our families and loved ones. It’s about more than just us. Going into this Thanksgiving week and playing this game, it’s for our families and Cougar Nation, showing that we love them and are playing our hearts out for them.”

All of the BYU players and coaches pointed to the devotion and dedication of the nationwide — and even international — Cougar fanbase as something they feel a lot of thankfulness for.

“I’m grateful for our fans,” BYU sophomore quarterback Jaren Hall said. “Kalani mentioned how devoted these fans are to us. They don’t even really know us, who we are individually, but the fact that we are representing BYU is something they love. That they’re investing in our lives now and in supporting us, man, it’s a blessing, honestly. It’s amazing. It’s one of the things I’m very grateful for being here at BYU.”

Cougar junior defensive back Malik Moore said that he has come to have a greater appreciation of little things, like having another day to live or being able to eat another meal.

He said seeing BYU fans show up in large numbers for last week’s 34-17 win at Georgia Southern was a good example of that.

“They literally packed out the stadium,” Moore said. “Kalani was saying that those are the fans who watch our games at 2 a.m. in the morning when we’re playing at 8 p.m. in Provo. Those are the type of things that we have to be grateful for because I’m not watching a game at 2 a.m. I’m going to sleep. So for them to sit up here and watch a game at 2 a.m. and really enjoy it, then come out to Georgia and pack it out like that, it shows a lot. Those are the things that a lot of people aren’t really thanking the fans for.”

Sitake hopes thankfulness is something that becomes more prevalent because he sees it making a huge difference in the world.

“I think the world would be a lot better, programs, businesses, a lot of different groups would be better, if we just focus on what we’re thankful for and operate that way,” Sitake said. “I’m lucky to have wonderful young men and wonderful people in the athletic department that are focused on being thankful and having a lot of gratitude.”


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