(Photo: Richard Lui/The Desert Sun)
Gordon Haskell still wasn’t 100 percent sure. His finger hovered over the send button as he took one last look at the e-mail he had just crafted.
He knew once he pressed the button his decision would be final, and it was one he’d been wrestling with for months.
Haskell, a talented athlete who graduated last month from La Quinta High School, was invited to play football for the University of Montana. But one of the few things more important to Haskell than football is his faith. Haskell is a Mormon and that’s where the decision comes in.
The e-mail he was ruminating over was to the football coach who recruited him at Montana. Coaches there wanted him to join the team this year as a walk-on and build toward a scholarship in his second year. Now he was about to tell them that he was instead going to put his education and football aspirations on hold in favor of immediately serving a two-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“When I had written up the e-mail, I was going to wait and to pray about whether I should send it or not,” said Haskell, knowing that the e-mail would not only let the football team know he was going on his mission, but indirectly make it official to himself and his family as well. “But right away, I got the feeling I should send it. And I clicked send and it felt like the right thing to do. … And then when I got a response right away, it felt great.”
The response was positive and swift.
“I said in the e-mail I knew in my heart it was something that I needed to do to be in the service of others, and not even a minute later I got a response back from coach (Justin) Green saying that he and the school were nothing but supportive,” Gordon said.
Green is the recruiting coordinator and running backs coach and they are interested in Haskell to play the fullback position he played as a senior at La Quinta.
To their credit, the Grizzlies organization showed their support by still inviting Haskell to come to see the campus and attend the Spring Game on April 14.
Haskell could exhale; the decision had been made. He was going on his two-year Mormon mission and was welcome to join the Montana football team when it was over. Whew!
Young men and women, 18 and older, are encouraged by the Mormon church to serve a mission, though it is not required.
While Haskell was tossing and turning over his decision, his best friend, classmate and fellow Mormon Spencer Lowell was sleeping easy.
Lowell, the Desert Valley League water polo Most Valuable Player, who also has the ability to play water polo or swim at the collegiate level, took a different approach when it came to his decision.
Lowell decided before he began his high school career that he was going to go on a mission after he graduated, and he stuck with it.
As his high school career progressed and it became clear that colleges might come calling, he never second-guessed his decision.
“It was an early decision for me,” Lowell said. “I knew going into high school that I’d come out and go on a mission and that’s something I’ve always stuck to and never wavered. I know Gordon had the dilemma and a tough decision, but I had made up my mind already. … (he added with a laugh) Also I didn’t receive a ton of great scholarship offers, so that helped.”
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