Sports, the physical engagement between two human beings, the pursuit of greatness and all of the pageantry associated with it, are an inspiring effort for all who attempt it. Those who pursue the art of sport can do so for a variety of different reasons — family, wealth, glory and faith all come to mind when an athlete asks themselves, “Why am I doing this?”
For Utah Lacrosse’s Aaron Fjeldsted, his reasons are a mixture of both of the common and peculiar, but they all tie back to his faith as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Fjeldsted has been a member of the LDS church all his life. To him, his participation in the Church was always a way to find inner peace.
The junior, out of Alpine, Utah, has remarked that his time at Brigham Young University was a valuable experience for him, as it taught him how to balance the life of a student athlete while keeping true to his faith.
“It [the church] brings a lot of light and joy,” Fjeldsted said. “It’s a huge part of what I do and the decisions I make. It helps me have a moral compass.”
Fjeldsted is also familiar with keeping both worlds in balance.
“It’s a 24/7 thing, but it’s not a 24/7 thing. It’s good to spend time meditating, praying, doing service for others, because it’s good to have that kind of mindset on the field.”
Fjeldsted was able to keep up this mentality during his two-year mission for the LDS church in Toronto, Canada, where he was able to keep his training up for his return to the field.
“Every missionary got 30 minutes to work out. It’s just a matter of whether or not you want to sacrifice more sleep beforehand to get extra work in. I’d go for a run in the morning if my companion was okay with it, sometimes my companion would sit in the middle of a track while I did my morning run.”
Fjeldsted’s dedication to both the Church and the sport that he now captains at the University of Utah is a story that many LDS athletes can relate to, both at the U and away from it. Fjeldsted talked about how the transition from the BYU locker room to that of the U wasn’t as difficult as expected.
“I left BYU with great feelings and loving the school. I really embraced the culture and the people around the school. Even coming here, I feel like the people are very accepting of my faith, and I never felt like people bugged me or looked down on me for what I believe in. It was the same there. Everyone there was supportive, and of course in that community, that’s no surprise.”
One thing that Fjeldsted emphasized was the idea that these two worlds — sports and the Church — are very similar in their design, despite the violent nature of lacrosse.
“They’re both trying to accomplish the same thing,” Fjeldsted said. “They’re both a way to better the community around you, and better yourself.”
Fjeldsted and the rest of the Utah lacrosse team will look to start their inaugural Division One season with a bang, as they take on the University of Vermont on Feb. 1 in Salt Lake City.
This article is part of the Poynter College Media Project. Click here for more stories and information on the topic “Are U Mormon?”