Former BYU freshman stand out Iona Pritchard returned April 21st from his LDS Mission to the Marshall Islands. Truebluecougars.com recently caught up with him and asked him about his mission experience, being home and football.
Truebluecougars.com: Tell us about the Marshall Islands and the people you served.
Iona: The Marshall Islands aren’t very big and are actually atolls that are long but not wide it is a very small place. The people are also small people in stature, but they are giants in generosity and kindness.
Truebluecougars.com: What positive effects did your mission have on you?
Iona: The effects my mission had on me were life changing. The opportunity to serve was like a deal with the lord. I would serve him for two years and he would teach me what really matters in life. My mission helped me mature and grow, both spiritually and temporally. I loved my mission and the people I served amongst.
Truebluecougars.com: How often if ever did you think about football?
Iona: There definitely were occasions on my mission where I would think about football. I would reminisce on past events during games and practices, mainly the feelings, the atmosphere, the fun. Some things are just unforgettable.
Truebluecougars.com: Did your family and friends keep you up to date on Cougar football or just Bingham?
Iona: My family did keep me somewhat updated with things in Provo. I was always more interested in how Baker was doing in football. My last mission president was a huge BYU fan so he always threw in some BYU updates right before I would leave the office.
Truebluecougars.com: Did any of the coaches keep in touch with you while you were out?
Iona: The coaches did keep in touch through a monthly letter which contained a spiritual thought and zero talk of football. The only thing they did mention was when BYU went independent. Even then coach Mendenhall apologized for bringing up football in the letter.
Truebluecougars.com: What does it mean to be able to play with Baker?
Iona: More than words can express. I have never had the opportunity to be able to play on the field with my brother. The thought helps me work harder in the weight room and push harder on the field. It’s an opportunity I don’t want to miss out on, it means too much to me. My dad and my brother are my best friends and to be able to be coached by one and play with the other brings out the best in a person, on and off the field.
Truebluecougars.com: Was playing with Baker part of the plan when you committed?
Iona: Playing with Baker was a long shot in high school. As we started looking down the road with college in the midst and serving missions, we figured we would have an opportunity to play together, that is if we went to the same school.
Truebluecougars.com: Did you have any input on his decision to play at BYU?
Iona: I told Baker the Y was a great place to play ball. I told him that it was a different type of football and people. I remember Baker would joke around sometimes saying he wasn’t going to the Y. I promised myself I would follow him to wherever he would go even if I had to walk on. I would joke around and say just don’t go to the U.
Truebluecougars.com: Have you noticed any changes in the program since you’ve been back or does it feel the same?
Iona: The feeling definitely changes when you come back and you don’t recognize anyone. Most of the guys I knew were older guys and those of my recruiting class. Now those upper classmen are gone and there are a lot of new faces. There are a lot of changes at the Y right now; we are independent with a lot of new coaching staff. The feel has definitely changed since before.
Truebluecougars.com: What are your thoughts on the new coaching staff?
Iona: I haven’t really had the chance to meet all of the new coaching staff. I have heard good things about them and look forward to working and meeting with them.
Truebluecougars.com: You were so versatile before your mission able to play both ways do you expect to do that again?
Iona: The only expectation I have is to work hard and see it pay off. I would love to play both sides of the ball again, which is something that requires a lot of work. The challenge is one that I will enjoy pursuing.
Truebluecougars.com: What position do you prefer?
Iona: It is too hard to go with one or the other. My preference would have to be both.
Truebluecougars.com: What are your thoughts on BYU being independent now and playing on ESPN?
Iona: I remember before my mission, coach Mendenhall said that we were striving to be a beacon of truth to the world, and what better chance to do so than on ESPN. I think it will provide numerous kinds of opportunities and open various doors that will lead to good things. It is an exciting time to be at BYU.