Messages of faith from athletes and coaches who belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Amy Menlove Otis

Being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has been the most important thing to me in my life. When I was 9 years old my parents got a divorce, and although that was a tough time for me I never felt alone. It was at that young age that I found a strong testimony in Heavenly Father and the power of prayer. I remember that I could never fall asleep at night until I said my prayers. I learned at a young age that I have a loving father in heaven, and that he sent his son Jesus Christ to help us through those tough times in life. I gained a really strong testimony of the enabling power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, that he did suffer that for us that he might lift us when we are down, and strengthen us when we are weak.

When I was 15 years old another tough situation happened: my brother Cody died (at the age of 12) of congenital heart disease. This was also my first year in high school, and a significant development in track. I had always had a love of sports and recreation, but this year it was different. After my brother died I truly felt God’s presence and strength in my life, and a deep impression that my brother is still close to me and loves me. I decided then to dedicate that track season to my brother’s life, in remembrance of him. This was a significant growth in my personal testimony, as well as my athletic achievements. I truly learned to love the Lord, and feel his love in return. I knew that God had a plan for us, for I knew that he had a plan for my brother. I knew that my brother still lived in spirit, and that I would see him again after this life. I came to know for myself of God’s plan for us, and that families can be together forever. That season in track I won three state championship titles, and got second in the fourth. I recorded state records and received multiple honors throughout the state. It was truly an honor to me and to my brother, and I feel it is a personal testimony of the power of God in our lives, and his love for us.

Throughout high school I continued my growth in my testimony, as well as my achievements in track. I remember becoming very involved in my ward in Sandy, Utah, and feeling the importance of being a part of and active in the church. I grew to know how important it was to make high standards and keep them, and to find and keep friends with those high standards. I recognized how much the Lord blesses you when you keep his commandments. Throughout high school I became state champion eleven times, plus 2nd place three more times. I made state records and all-time state marks multiple times in different events. I felt extremely blessed, and knew and thanked God for all of them.

I then attended BYU on a full-ride scholarship. My parents wouldn’t have been able to help me go to college, so I felt gratitude to God for this great blessing. My early experiences at BYU continued to strengthen my testimony. My religious classes, faithful friends, and uplifting environment all contributed to my growth in my testimony. I also learned the importance of hard work and enduring. I had always wanted to become an All-American, but my freshman year was just the first stepping stone. In the indoor season I was the first athlete cut from going to the national meet, and outdoors I was the first athlete not to receive All-American honors. It was a great learning experience, and in the end a great testimony builder. That summer I was given the great blessing of jumping over 21 feet for the first time and making the junior world team to compete for the U.S. in Italy. I felt it was a great opportunity for me to be an example of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and to help spread the gospel to others. My friend from BYU also made it to the Italy meet, and together we were able to share with the other athletes why we live the way we live. It was such a great testimony builder to live the way I believe and to have others notice and be impressed by who I am and what I believe.

My sophomore year I did not give up, I did not lose faith or hope in my dreams. In the indoor and outdoor seasons I received All-American honors four times. I felt an even greater gratitude and love of the Lord for the great blessings he has poured upon me.

As we all know life includes both blessings and trials. In the end of my sophomore season I got a stress fracture in my foot. This stress fracture was going to delay my training for the next track season, and since I had already planned on going on a mission it seemed like the perfect time. In December 2005 I received a mission call to Kirtland and Cleveland, Ohio. I left in February 2006 and returned July 2007. I not only gained a deeper and stronger testimony of the gospel during my mission, I also gained it from my call to be a missionary. I truly felt it was inspired for me to leave when I did, to be sent where I did, and be able to return in time to perform my future duties. So many people told me that I wouldn’t be the same person when I got home, that I might never be as good of an athlete, and that I could choose a different route. I knew deep down that God gave me the inspiration to go, and that everything would be okay. I trusted that my future would be how God wanted it to be. On my mission I learned how much each of us has been given talents to help God and the growth of his kingdom here on the earth. This is God’s work, and if we choose we can do much to help God and his children in so many different ways. Athletics is one of those ways in which we are able to meet and help other people. Even on my mission I was able to use my athletics talent to share the gospel. I gained a stronger testimony that God did restore his true church to the earth once again through the prophet Joseph Smith, and that Joseph translated the Book of Mormon by the gift and power of God.

When I returned home it took much faith and trust in God, patience, and more, but in the end I saw God’s hand bless me again. We never know how long God will try us, how long or hard we will have to endure, but God always comes through if you do your part. This life is about gaining experience in whatever way God deems necessary. We must learn to say, “Thy will be done,” and trust in his arm only, and not in the flesh.

After a year and a half of trying to get back into shape after my mission I became a National Champion in the pentathlon, and that same month I married Dave Otis in the Draper, Utah temple. Again I saw God’s blessings over and over. Two of my dreams fulfilled, wow what a blessing! I was overwhelmed with joy in my God! How great are the blessings of the Lord after the trial of your faith. I also became an All-American two more times that year. A couple weeks later another trial began. My back was seriously injured, which continues to this day. My testimony has been strengthened in the work of the Lord, and the true faith and trust we must have in him. No matter what we think our destiny should be, it is God’s hands and will always be for our good. God is always blessing us, we need to only open our eyes and recognize it.

Just this last weekend I received another All-American honor. Although I might be injured, and life seems very difficult at times, I never lose faith that my life is in the Lord’s hands. The Lord knows what we are going through, and will never forsake us. We will achieve what we need to, when we need to, if we just give our life to the Lord and trust in him. I know I have done my best, and that the Lord only asks for our best. I know that the Lord lives in every aspect of our lives. God lives and did send his son Jesus Christ to the earth to die for us. Joseph Smith was a prophet called of God to restore his church to the earth, and translated the Book of Mormon so that we might have a second witness of the divinity of Christ’s calling. I know that we each have many talents that God has given to us, and asks us to magnify those talents for the blessing of others. He also asks us to keep his commandments with obedience, and in return will bless and prosper us exceedingly. I have personally experienced it and know it to be true. I love the Lord and am so grateful for his mercy and grace. He lives and will come again!

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I was born in Salt Lake City, Utah. I am the second oldest with four brothers, Kit (27), Cody (passed away in 2000), Kylan (11), and Jace (9). I grew up in Sandy, Utah, and lived there most my life. When I was young I participated in many activities including gymnastics (ages 3-13), soccer, band (played the flute), cross country, track and field (since I was 7), and many church activities. I was a very busy little girl who also enjoyed spending time with her family. We would go camping often, spend every summer at a beach house in California, and participate in many different sports together. When I was 15 I decided to do high school track, and have never stopped. Although my family on both sides had attended the University of Utah, I decided to go another route. My sophomore year in high school I was told that if I worked hard I might be able to receive a scholarship to attend a university for athletics. In high school I received multiple awards including 11 state championship titles (2000: 4x100m relay; 2001: long jump, 100m, 4x100m relay; 2002: long jump, 100m, 200m, 400; 2003: long jump, 100m, 4x100m relay) and 2nd place three other times (2000: long jump; 2001: 200m; 2003: 200m). I was also named Utah High School Track and Field Athlete of the Year three times (2001, 2002, 2003), and USA Track and Field High School All-American twice (2002 and 2003). When I was a junior I received multiple offers, but only one university felt right for me. I signed to attend BYU that year, and have loved my decision ever since. During my freshman year (2004) I was awarded the Freshman of the Year award for BYU Athletics, as well as became a member of the USA Junior World team to compete in Italy that summer. I placed 6th in the world in long jump at the Junior World Championships in Grosseto, Italy. My sophomore season (2005) I received my first NCAA All-American Award, compiling a total of four that season (2nd Indoor Pentathlon, 3rd Indoor Long Jump, 4th Outdoor Long Jump, 9th Outdoor Heptathlon). I received the Mountain West Conference High Point Award for the Indoor Conference meet. I also received the NCAA Mountain Region Field Athlete of the Year Award that year. Then in 2006 I received an LDS mission call to serve in the Ohio Cleveland Mission and the Kirtland Historic Sites. I served for 18 months and then returned to BYU where I am now finishing school and track and field. Just after I returned home from my mission I met Dave Otis, a young man majoring in Chinese. We dated for some time and then married March 25, 2009 in the Draper, Utah temple. My junior year in track (2009) I became a National Champion in the Pentathlon and received two more All-American Awards (1st Indoor Pentathlon, 7th Indoor Long Jump). I received the Mountain West Conference High Point Award at the Indoor Conference meet. I again received the NCAA Mountain Region Field Athlete of the Year Award. I also received the Mountain West Conference Track and Field Athlete of the Year Award, and the Cougar Club Memorial Award at BYU. My senior season (2010) is in progress. So far I have received one All-American honor (13th Indoor Pentathlon), which makes a total of 7 in my career so far. I am majoring in health education, and minoring in coaching education.

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