How to return from the mission field to the playing field

When his friends advised him to take a year to train and regain his basketball body, Jordan Bachynski didn’t believe them.

Arizona State center Jordan Bachynski, left, grabs a rebound away from USC forward Garrett Jackson (33) during a game. (AP Photo/Richard Hartog)

The 7-foot-2 center had just returned from serving a two-year LDS mission to South Florida. Before that, he missed his senior year of high school due to ankle surgery. But he didn’t want to wait any more, and his lack of production and poor conditioning was evident.

“The muscles in my legs weren’t strong enough to maintain the whole time,” Bachynski recently told Jack Macgruder of “So I’d be good for the first five minutes, then feel my legs go to spaghetti. It was crazy. I tried to do too much too quickly coming off my mission, and I struggled with injuries because I was pushing it a little too hard. I pulled everything in my legs. Once I got to play, the whole first year was just spent sucking air. It was bad.”

It has taken some time and diligent hard work, but the Arizona State center has finally regained his former monster form and is emerging as one of the top centers in the PAC-12 this season. Bachynski is averaging 10.5 points, 7.1 rebounds and 4.6 blocked shots a game in 25 minutes of action. He had the first triple-double in ASU history with 13 points, 12 rebounds and 12 blocks in a victory over Cal State Northridge on Dec. 8, and set a school and Pac-12 record with nine blocked shots in a 65-56 victory over Colorado on Sunday. The junior also leads the Pac-12 with a .656 field goal percentage.

Dallin Bachynski blocks the shot of a Boise State opponent earlier this season (Deseret News Archive)

Jordan’s little brother, Dallin, also a 7-footer, plays for the University of Utah. Dallin transferred from Southern Utah to Utah after serving an LDS mission to Croatia. This Deseret News article by Dirk Facer describes the brothers Bachynski as they prepared to play each other earlier this month. The Sun Devils defeated the Utes, 55-54 in overtime. Jordan scored 14 points, grabbed eight rebounds and blocked one shot. Dallin, a sophomore, recorded two points, one rebound and one assist. There will be more battles between these brothers.

Lagi Setu is another recently returned missionary who is trying to re-condition his body for the ultra-physical sport of rugby.

According to Josh Mossoud’s article in the Herald Sun, Setu didn’t follow Australian rugby at all while serving his mission in the United Kingdom. But when he returned in October, 24-year-old dreaded his first day of training.

Lagi Setu is back with Melbourne Storm after being away on a two year LDS mission. (Jake Nowakowski/ Herald Sun)

“I knew I had no training behind me for two years. I was carrying a bag of boots instead of The Book Of Mormon. I just thought it would be an orientation day, but I was so wrong,” Setu said. “We did wrestling, weights and fitness checks and all sorts of things. My lungs went into complete shock. I found myself with a lot of fat after the skin-fold tests. It was a shock for me as well as the club. I thought, ‘This is going to make or break me.'”

The pain was so intense that Setu almost gave up his rugby comeback. His body wasn’t ready, but deep down he really wanted to play again. So he has continued to workout. He hopes the hard work will pay off in February when gets his first taste of competition.

Setu’s poor physical condition now has Parramatta officials a little worried about the return of their missionary, Will Hopoate, this October.

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