A season-ending injury has drastically changed the long-term plans for University of New Mexico women’s basketball player Whitney Johnson.
After missing all but two games of her freshman season for an ACL tear, the redshirt sophomore from Highland, Utah, suffered an Achilles tendon tear during summer workouts.
Instead of watching from the bench, Johnson will serve an 18-month LDS mission in Mexico, according to the Albuquerque Journal. She plans to return to basketball for the 2015-16 season.
“I will be kind of an older woman then,” the 6-foot-2 Johnson told Journal staff writer Ken Sickenger. “But I’ll come back 100 percent healed and have three more years here. I feel good about it.”
Another future sister missionary is Paige Hunt, a sophomore soccer player at BYU. She made the decision to serve last January and has her call. She is going to Indiana, according the campus publication, The Digital Universe.
“A lot of people have asked, ‘Why would you give up soccer? You’re doing so well,’” Hunt told the Universe. “I don’t think that’s the way it should be. Soccer is something I love, but serving a mission is so important and will benefit me in the long run.”
Johnson and Hunt aren’t the only college athletes making plans for a mission. Payton Dastrup, a 6-foot-10, 230-pound senior in Mesa, Ariz., a highly-touted college recruit, is preparing to go after graduation.
“I’m looking at going on the mission after I graduate from high school, probably in June 2014,” Dastrup told 247sports.com. “That’s what it looks like now. That is subject to change possibly.”
Dastrup has narrowed his list of schools to BYU, Florida, Ohio State, and Virginia.
Dastrup’s father served a mission in Indiana, and his grandfather served in New Zealand. He has looked forward to serving all his life and is prepared to go anyway he is assigned.
“There was a kid who lived down the street from me who was in Madagascar. You can go anywhere in the country or anywhere in the world,” Dastrup told Steve Helwagen of 247sports.com. “It is two years of committed church service where we preach what we believe in. You can go virtually anywhere. … It is definitely a life changing experience.”
Meanwhile, a returned missionary playing college football this season was recently featured in an article by thefamuanonline.com.
Casey Glines, a 6-foot-6 wide receiver at Union High School and Snow College, is now playing for Florida A&M. The article talks about football, Gline’s membership in the LDS Church, his wife Carol and his experience with the Rattlers. Glines was recently profiled in the Deseret News.