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North graduates pause athletics to spread word


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Columbus North graduates and Brigham Young freshmen Skyler Farmer, left, and Thomas Shoaf, pictured Monday, will be leaving soon for their two-year missions to Russia and Hawaii, respectively. Andrew Laker | The Republic
Columbus North graduates and Brigham Young freshmen Skyler Farmer, left, and Thomas Shoaf, pictured Monday, will be leaving soon for their two-year missions to Russia and Hawaii, respectively. Andrew Laker | The Republic


If Thomas Shoaf and Skyler Farmer are going to make an impact in their respective sports at Brigham Young University, they’ll have to wait two more years.

The 2013 Columbus North graduates finished their first semesters at the Provo, Utah, school in December and now are ready to embark on its mandated two-year Mormon mission.

Shoaf reports today to Honolulu, and Farmer will travel to Samara, Russia, in April.

Shoaf redshirted for the football team this fall, something he knew he’d be doing from the beginning.

“I was very pleased with how well it went,” Shoaf said. “I took a year to develop and get bigger and stronger and get ready to play Division I football.”

Now Shoaf, an offensive lineman who put on 15 pounds to get up to 265 and added 40 pounds of lean mass, hopes he can maintain the strength he’s gained.

While in Hawaii, his workouts could be limited to one day a week.

Mission possible

NAME: Thomas Shoaf

HIGH SCHOOL: Columbus North

COLLEGE: BYU

YEAR: Freshman

HEIGHT: 6-foot-5

SPORT: Football

NAME: Skyler Farmer

HIGH SCHOOL: Columbus North

COLLEGE: BYU

YEAR: Freshman

HEIGHT: 6-foot-2

SPORT: Rugby

“Whenever I can, I lift and work out, trying to maintain as much as I can,” Shoaf said. “We do a lot of walking, so we stay in pretty good shape. We try to get back early spring (in 2016). That way we have a couple months to start lifting again, get used to football contact again and be ready for fall.

“With Hawaii’s diet, I should be OK,” he said. “They eat pretty well. But you’re not there for football. You’re there to serve the Lord and do what you can; and when you get back, you start from there.”

Shoaf said the missionaries wake up at 6 a.m. and study for a couple of hours, then go out and proselytize and field appointments. They have a 10 p.m. curfew.

Shoaf said he’ll have a phone to communicate with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints members in the area and the mission president. He can call home only on Mother’s Day and Christmas but can write letters or email on his personal day, which usually is Monday.

Several BYU players, along with offensive coordinator Robert Anae and running backs coach Mark Atuaie, are from Hawaii. Shoaf said more than 80 percent of his BYU teammates already have served their missions.

“They’ve gotten pretty good at bringing players back in,” Shoaf said.

Farmer, meanwhile, will serve an area 600 miles by 900 miles in the southwestern part of Russia. BYU students have the option of requesting a stateside mission, but Farmer was open to traveling abroad.

The presidency of the Mormon church decides where each missionary goes.

“It was a pretty crazy thought, talking with some of my friends,” Farmer said. “A lot of them had said that they could see me going to Russia. My bishop and his assistants said they could see me going to Russia, so when they opened (the envelope) up, and it had me going to Russia. It was an exhilarating thought.”

A movie that came out in November called “The Saratov Approach” tells the story of two missionaries who were kidnapped in 1998 in the same area where Farmer will be going.

Then-President Bill Clinton and the Mormon church became involved, and the missionaries were released after five days. They went on to continue their missions in a different part of Russia.

“It’s Russia, which is completely different from the United States,” Farmer said. “It’s a communist government. It will be different, but hopefully, I’ll be safe.”

Farmer, who played football and rugby at North, talked with coaches of BYU’s national powerhouse rugby team in the fall and plans to try out for the team when he returns from his mission in 2016.

“They said they’d love for me to come out, and they would enjoy seeing me play,” Farmer said. “But I wanted to get a semester of schooling in. When I get back from my mission, I think I’ll do that.”

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