Editor's note: This week, the Deseret News takes an in-depth look at how football coaches balance the demands of their profession with commitments to their faith.
Monday: Justin Anderson, Nicholls State
Tuesday: Ed Lamb, Southern Utah University
Wednesday: Steve Kaufusi, BYU
Friday: Coaches and Christianity
Southern Utah University head football coach Ed Lamb regularly attends meetings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with his family. He finds truth in the teachings of the gospel and has accepted various opportunities to serve. He said the church has been hugely influential in his life.
Yet Lamb is not a Mormon. He's been investigating the church since 1992 when he played at Ricks College.
"Most of the time, I don't even correct people who make the assumption," Lamb said in a recent interview with the Deseret News. "Over time, I've been exposed to the culture and have tremendous respect for the religion. This has been a real example for good in my life. The morals and beliefs are highly congruent with how I would want to live and how I want my family to live their lives."
If not for baptism, Lamb would call himself a Mormon. Although he was raised and baptized in a different Christian faith, Lamb has played or coached with many members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for most of his adult life. Lamb also married a Latter-day Saint, and two of his daughters are members. Two younger children will likely be baptized when they turn 8 years old.
During his association with the church, Lamb has served in Scouting as well as in other capacities. Being a college football coach has granted him a little extra credibility with young people, and they have listened to him. Overall, church service has helped him to be a better coach. He also believes that LDS values are similar to athletic values, Lamb said.
"It has given me the tools to speak to players and helps me deal with all the different individual backgrounds," Lamb said. "The gospel also helps me put losses in perspective by understanding we are not perfect. This life is a process toward perfection. It's not just game-to-game or season-to-season, it's a lifetime pursuit."
Lamb has two Mormons on his staff, including offensive coordinator/associate head coach Gary Crowton and strength and conditioning coach Dan Bennion. Bennion currently serves as a bishop in the Cedar City area. While there are team meetings on Sunday evenings, Lamb does his best to accommodate the religious beliefs of each member of his staff and team.
In good-natured fun, family members and LDS friends occasionally ask when Lamb will get baptized, but the coach just smiles and says he's going at his pace, Lamb said.
"There is no question in my mind the LDS Church is a major source for good, and it has been a blessing to be around it," Lamb said. "But at this point, I am really comfortable with my relationship with God, my role as a human being and the opportunity to be an influence on the people around me.
"I also know my mother-in-law will enjoy seeing me show up in the Mormon Times."
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