Former Miner Jack Skidmore is foregoing college athletics for a higher purpose to serve his LDS mission in England
Part of what makes high school and college so special is that more often than not, it takes kids on a journey of self-discovery. It’s a time in their lives when they begin to discover who they truly are in this world and what their purpose may be, or at least what direction they should be heading towards.
Jack Skidmore is no different.
A former Park City High School athlete who is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Skidmore, 18, has spent parts of the last year on this same journey, albeit one based on faith.
A devout Mormon since his birth, Skidmore’s senior year brought more challenges than the first 17 years of his life combined.
“When you’re raised with something different and been told your whole life to do all these things in order to be loyal to your Mormon faith, you sort of struggle with the ‘why’ of things,” Skidmore said. “I’ve had some recent experiences with why this is something I need to be doing when others are doing differently and they seem happy. … I believe that God’s purpose is essentially happiness and that we are meant to be happy.”
But now, Skidmore no longer asks why.
He has decided to bypass on the immediate opportunity of college and playing college football in order to find more purpose in life.
Beginning on Oct. 14, Skidmore is set to serve his LDS mission in Leeds, England, for the next two years.
“I talk to my dad all the time and I told him I want to do something different and try something new, so teaching Persian to immigrants and refugees is perfect,” Skidmore said. “In the grand scheme of things, we live in a bubble here in Park City so I’m super excited to hear their stories and their side of life. I know this will benefit my life and help me achieve that purpose I was looking for, but I also hope that it will also be a benefit to their lives as well.”
This wasn’t an easy decision for Skidmore to reach.
After going through what he calls “personal decisions and challenges that were wrong” throughout the last year, Skidmore really began to question why his faith was so important to him. How, after being devout for so long, could things be going so wrong at this pivotal point in his life?
Skidmore had spent all of high school making sure that he was the best student, football player, teammate and all-around person possible. He gave up a lot and did life the right way because he knew what he wanted to do with life and didn’t want to put those goals into jeopardy.
His original plan was to serve his two-year mission and then attend Stanford University, where the football coaches had offered him a preferred walk-on spot on the team.
But then in late March, the hammer dropped when he found out he didn’t get into Stanford — and he was waitlisted for his second choice, Navy.
So in his eyes, if there ever was time to question his faith and ask why, that time was now.
“Stanford was everything to me, so when I didn’t get in, I found myself in a spot I wasn’t planning for. … I thought of myself as a shoo-in to get in to be honest, but it wasn’t meant to be,” Skidmore said. “It was definitely a journey of spiritual struggle when all of this happened. I struggled with that ‘why’ for a long time, and it’s lonely when you’re questioning a lot and don’t know why or what’s going on.”
This left Skidmore scrambling for plans C, D and E; ones he never really considered. He had his options of attending West Point, Johns Hopkins or to follow in his parents’ footsteps and attend their alma mater, Brigham Young University.
But after a month of trying to figure out what he wanted, he still couldn’t decide.
“I had to reevaluate a lot of stuff and had nowhere to really even begin looking,” Skidmore said. “The weird thing is that I was bouncing back and forth between the schools, switching my decision every day. I didn’t know what I wanted because every option felt good, but I felt like there was something missing.”
The something weird happened, something that Skidmore can’t really explain except by having faith.
Following a conversation with his Young Men’s leader regarding his future, Skidmore came to the conclusion that what was missing from his life was purpose.
“After doing all my research on all the schools and nothing felt right, I had this overwhelming feeling to serve this mission,” Skidmore said. “I couldn’t delay it any longer. … My spirit was telling me I needed this and that’s why I couldn’t pick a college.”
Everything seems to be working out in the end, as Skidmore will attend BYU following the completion of his mission in October of 2022. He will also be suiting up for the Cougars on the football field as the coaches have offered him a preferred walk-on spot for the team, set to begin in January of 2023 when he enrolls.
Skidmore believes that everything he’s been through the past year has led him to exactly where he’s supposed to be. To him, life is one big lesson about finding your purpose and happiness and more often than not, people don’t appreciate that journey until they can look back on it and reflect — and he can’t wait for when that day comes.
“I truly believe that God has a plan and for whatever reason, mine included breaking my arm, getting a concussion and not going to Stanford or Navy. … I’ve been through this for a reason so that when someone else may be going through the same thing one day, maybe I can help be a guiding voice.” Skidmore said. “I think a big truth in life is that I’ve never been happier than doing what I’ve been taught and what I know to be true. … When you have faith in God, there is a bigger plan and I’m just lucky that I’m able to be a part of it.”
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