By Rosemary Pollock
Mission Teaches LDS RM Wallin Something About Sports
HONOLULU, HAWAII -- While ASU was going to the Rose Bowl, Arizona
State's Kurt Wallin was serving a two year mission for The Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Rochester, N.Y. "I watched them
beat Nebraska on TV, and when they played in the Rose Bowl, I was at
a church member's house watching," he said. "The people had a baby
who was asleep, so I had to hold back on my emotions whenever they
did something. I knew almost all of 'em, and I was proud. I sort of
wished I was there, but I knew the importance of being where I was,"
Wallin is a 23-year-old, 6-foot-2, 225-pound junior defensive tackle
who while sporting a well-trimmed goatee looks older than the rest of
his teammates. Sometimes he is even mistaken for an ASU assistant
coach. Looks can be deceiving though and Wallin credits his mission
for his biggest dose of reality. "I was a punk. I was selfish.
Everything was me, me, me. I thought I knew it all. I didn't know
that coaches were there for a reason." Speaking of his mission Wallin
says, "It was everything I needed."
When Wallin returned home, Snyder and the staff welcomed him back.
"They took a big chance, but I wanted to justify their faith in me,"
he said. "It was hard at first, getting used to the pace again, but I
started to get back into it." Wallin has had 34 tackles, placing
third in the Pac-10 among interior men. He has four sacks, three
fumbles and one recovery.
"I just love being out there. I love the game," Wallin says. "I'm
looking forward to coming back next year, but I want to be in great
shape and I want to be stronger, so I'll have to hit the weights. I'm
not afraid to hit a 330-pound guy in the mouth, but I want to be able
to be stronger so I can shed the block."
'Punk' matures into big man
MSNBC (Arizona Republic) 23Dec00 S2
By Don Ketchum: The Arizona Republic