Sports Heroes Inspire Youth

Sports Heroes Inspire Youth

News Release

More than six hundred youth, parents and their leaders from all over Victoria and southern NSW gathered together on 9 July 2017 for a regional devotional held at the Heidelberg chapel of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The devotional capped off an exciting few days for youth as they participated in a regional youth basketball competition. 

Speakers included former AFL footballer Stephen Lawrence, dual gold Olympic medallist Peter Vidmar, who is currently serving as Mission President in Melbourne and 18-year-old Elder Elijah Smiler, who is a full time missionary in the Melbourne Australia Mission.

As a man of faith, Stephen Lawrence shared a number of experiences from his twelve-year career with the Hawthorn Football Club. 

On one occasion he was with all of his Hawthorn team mates traveling on a team bus when a pornographic movie began playing. Despite the ridicule that he was sure he would get from his teammates, he requested that the movie be stopped. 

To his great surprise, no one said anything to him at time, but many years later, one of his former teammates confided that he viewed that experience as one of the greatest examples of courage that he had ever seen. He told of how he had shared that experience with thousands of people as an example of courage and integrity.

Elder Smiler also shared examples of how as a young man representing New Zealand in international Basketball competitions, he too was confronted with uncomfortable situations that challenged his values. He found when he stayed true to his values his decisions were vindicated and it gave others the strength to follow as well.

President Vidmar taught, "There are times when we need to take a stand, and sometimes it's uncomfortable. There is nothing in the scriptures that says keeping the commandments will be quick, fun and easy. Sometimes it's awkward, uncomfortable and embarrassing”.

He added that the main reason he felt he could stay true to the standards of keeping the Sabbath day holy and following the church’s health code, the Word of Wisdom was that "I had already made those decisions long before that moment of truth”.

He further added that "We need to make decisions now about who we want to be and who we want to become so that as we get older it’s easy to say no to the things that will get us off track and say yes to the things that will keep us on track."

Style Guide Note:When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online Style Guide.