"On and Off the Field, the Gospel is my Bedrock"
Contributed by Chris Leonard, Abbotsford British Columbia Stake
Ben Archibald is an offensive tackle for the BC Lions of the Canadian Football League. He is also a Latter-day Saint.
As a promising young footballer, Ben dreamed of playing for the Huskies in his home state of Washington. But during his crucial senior year, he broke a bone in his foot and was out of football. The possibility of choosing his college with a full-ride football scholarship was open to him, but all the universities withdrew their invitations when they learned of his injury. All, that is, except BYU. That summer Ben drove to Provo and was recruited. He played there for a year and a half, before turning down an opportunity to fill the position being vacated by a player headed to the NFL, in order to serve a Spanish speaking mission in Tucson, Arizona. Upon his return to BYU, Ben played in the starting line-up in their opening game against Florida.
Just before his senior year at BYU, Ben and Jodi married in 2002. When he was full of optimism for an extended career in the National Football League, another injury almost shattered his hopes for a football career. It was some time and many trials later before he was finally invited to play with the New Orleans Saints. Ben and Jodi then were in New Orleans for three full years, including the 2005 season when hurricane Katrina caused the team to move to San Antonio, Texas. It was there in 2007 Ben and Jodi got the happy news that they were going to have triplets.
It seemed a good time to head back to Washington State to be close to family and friends. The three baby girls were born early and one of them required heart surgery. “It was a blessing that Ben had been released from the Saints as we had the girls back in our home ward with the support of family and friends, which is what the Lord knew we would really need.”
Then Ben was offered a new opportunity, so the Archibalds headed to Calgary for him to play in the Canadian Football League. Ben was playing with the Stampeders when they won the Grey Cup in 2008. He made All Star and was named the west division’s most outstanding lineman. Then in 2010, Ben was named the CFL's Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman.
“The Church has played an amazing role in helping the family as we have moved from city to city. When Ben was out of town, raising three girls could have been a daunting task, but each time we moved, we found a readymade surrogate family. Relief Society, Elders quorum leaders and home and visiting teachers have all played a part in supporting our family; we have been richly blessed”, says Jodi.
Ben now pulls on the black and orange jersey for Vancouver’s BC Lions since signing for them in February 2011 and with the team went on to win the Grey Cup in November.
“I love football, I have given a lot to football and it has been good to me in return, but it will never be the most important thing in my life. Someday I will hang up my boots, but my faith and my family will stay central to my life for the eternities”, says Ben. “Being LDS in professional football has provided me with opportunities to share my testimony and beliefs with players and coaches. Teammates are quick to notice things about me that set me apart, which has often led to a gospel discussion. With only a few LDS players in the CFL, I feel a great responsibility to represent the Church in a positive way. The life of a professional football player can be rewarding, but like any other career it has its downsides, however having the gospel of Jesus Christ and being a member of His Church is the bedrock on which a happy life can be built.”
During football season, Ben, his wife Jodi and their three daughters reside in Langley, BC.