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One on One: Kyle Van Noy, Elaine Bradley, Spencer Hadley, Vai Sikahema

(Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)



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Kyle Van Noy, former BYU linebackerIf Kyle Van Noy could give any advice to the younger generation, he said it would be to listen and obey their parents.

"They truly know what is best for you, and they truly love you," he said. "They will always be on your side no matter what."

He knows it may be hard to believe for some, but said that he is a testament to those words.

Van Noy described his mother as a saint. She is caring, loving, nurturing. And she was wise.

At 16 years old, Van Noy said sports were his driving force in life.

"I didn't really know who I was at that point," he said.

That started to change when his mother made him go to an LDS fireside.

"That moment I started then questioning myself with, you know, 'Am I really doing everything I can to keep my faith strong and be a better light to people?' " he said.

Fast forward a few years to when Van Noy had to choose where to go to college. He knew where his mother wanted him to go.

"I'm glad and grateful that I went to BYU," he said.

It was there he said he was able to share the message that it is OK to come back from mistakes, to uplift others, and be a light for those who are unsure of their path.

Later, after a successful few years as a linebacker for the Brigham Young University football team, Van Noy had to decide between finishing his degree and joining the NFL. His mom's advice was to find a quiet place and give thanks for all of his blessings, and the opportunity to have that decision to make.

After receiving a "spiritual confirmation," Van Noy said, he decided to stay and continue his education at BYU.

Now with a degree under his belt, the NFL draft ahead and a wedding in the near future, Van Noy said his mother was right.

"I'm really glad I listened, because mom — your mom knows more than you think," he said.

Parents have the knowledge, he said, and have been through those same moments their children have.

"I'm really grateful," Van Noy said. "I'm grateful to have people that are strong in the church around me. I'm grateful for a mother who cares for me and who would do anything in her power to see me smile and make me happy."

Elaine Bradley, Neon Trees drummer

The title of drummer for the alternative rock band Neon Trees doesn't define Elaine Bradley.

When she's on the road, she said she's on the road. When she's at rehearsal, she's at rehearsal. And when she's at home, she's at home.

One thing stays constant: Her own personal creed to be true to her faith, and have the courage to do so.

Bradley said the most important thing in life is courage.

"If we're talking about the kind of courage that gets you to do something that you know is right," she said.

But it wasn't always that way for Bradley. Growing up, Bradley said she used courage to pursue the things she wanted in life.

She didn't believe God wanted her to be happy.

She recalled conversing with God, saying, "I am fairly sure that anything that I want, you're not going to let me have," she said.

So, Bradley did what she wanted.

"That was the courage that I had when I was younger," she said. "It was ridiculous, foolish courage."

Bradley said she started to develop a testimony that there was a God, something she said she always knew.

"He wanted something from me, I think is the thing that I started to listen to," she said.

Bradley said it was a combination of courage and trust in God that led her to where she is today.

At age 23, she decided to go on a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She went despite feeling like she was dying, giving up everything, and that her career was over.

She told herself, "I'm just going to do it and I'm going to believe and trust that I'm going to happy, eventually," she said.

Her career wasn't over. It was just the beginning.

While serving in Germany, Bradley met Bryce Taylor. He convinced her to go to college at Brigham Young University after her mission. It was there that she began playing in a band. Soon after, she was led to the group that would become Neon Trees.

It was also through Taylor that Bradley met her husband.

"Everything that I have that I value now, that's not my immediate family, I have because I went on a mission and I met Bryce," she said. "And our son is named Bryce because of it."

Bradley said she still feels fear, but she has the courage to act anyway.

"What matters first is what he (God) wants me to do," she said. "I need to trust that I will be happy eventually, and I do what he wants me to do."

Spencer Hadley, former BYU linebacker

After hearing a pop in his knee early into a November game in 2013, BYU linebacker Spencer Hadley said he knew the injury was going to be bad.

"I knew I wasn't going to be able to bounce back quickly from that one," he said.

Hadley suffered an injury to his MCL, sidelining him during important games for the Cougars.

Moving forward and staying positive was difficult, but he said it was the only option.

"If it's what you really want, you have to keep going."

That wasn't his only setback. In September of that season, Hadley was suspended for violating team rules.

Despite the ups and downs, Hadley said there was something that remained constant.

"I know in whom I trust," he said, quoting scripture. "I know who Jesus Christ is. And I know that trusting in him no matter what I've done or what I feel that I'm not capable of doing, with him all things are possible."

He said he decided not to take the gospel, church attendance, scripture reading and prayer casually.

"Going about life casually will result in casualty," he said, repeating one of his favorite sayings. "I've attempted to make all of those things more meaningful in my life.

After all the struggles, Hadley put his head down and got to work.

"And the Lord has provided opportunity after opportunity for me to have opportunities to move forward in life," he said.

One of those opportunities came while he was attending a fireside at the Utah State Prison.

"Put Hadley in," one of the inmates yelled.

He stood to address the group, relaying something he'd learned recently: that despite any mistakes, none of them in that fireside qualified as being "the very vilest of sinners."

"I bore my testimony of the power of the Atonement," he said. "That we always have a fighting chance, and that the Lord never gives up on us."

Hadley said he wouldn't change anything about the past or the good that came from an ugly situation.

Ultimately, he said success comes down to trusting in the Lord.

"And just believing that no matter what the circumstance or the situation, you're trusting the statement that when the Lord says, 'With (him) all things are possible,' they really are."

Vai Sikahema, Philadelphia news anchor

Freshman running back Vai Sikahema ran up on a punt during a BYU football game in 1980. He caught the ball on a bounce and ran back to score. It was the Holiday Bowl, and that touchdown gave the Cougars a come-from-behind win against Southern Methodist University. Sikahema said it was one of the most important games in the history of BYU.

His greatest moment in the NFL was returning a punt against the New York Giants while playing for the Philadelphia Eagles.

The success didn't end there.

Sikahema ended up with a career in broadcasting. He said he was in the right place at the right time to make that happen.

"Timing is everything, and it has been in my life," he said. "I've been lucky. I've been fortunate to be at the right place at the right time."

But Sikahema said it's more than that. It's also about making the right choices in his life at those moments.

"I haven't always been perfect; I'm not perfect now," he said. "I've made good choices along the way with the perfect timing."

Growing up in Tonga, however, Sikahema didn't own a watch.

"I come from a place where really nobody keeps time," he said.

But his dad was different. He liked to be on time, sometimes hours early — something Sikahema said he appreciated.

Now, Sikahema is constantly looking at his watch.

"Coach (LaVell) Edwards used to tell us the most important thing in your life is this: To be at the right place at the right time and be there when you need to be there, and be where you're supposed to be when you're supposed to be there. That is half of life's challenge."

Football all depends on the clock, Sikahema said. When the clock runs out, the game is over.

"Like life," he said. "You do all your work within the time frame you're allotted and when it's over, it's over.

But right now, Sikahema said it is never too late to fix things in our lives.

"I think our life and mortality (are) about do-overs," he said. "Sometimes you're not going to get things right. But our life is about getting up off the canvas and, you know, figuring out how to put one foot in front of the other."

Emilee Eagar
    Dave McCann

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