Davy, the Champion Who Didn’t Run

By Susan E. Tanner

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    When my son Davy joined his school’s cross-country team in his fourth-grade year, it became apparent quickly that he had a great talent for running. He placed high in races against other competitive runners. His family was proud of him, as were his coaches.

    Davy was soon invited to join a running club some local coaches had started. It was a great opportunity, but there was one problem—many of the meets were on Sundays. So Davy turned down their invitation.

    The next year, Davy continued to excel in races for his school, so the coaches once again asked him to join the club. “You will have the chance to know ‘real success’,” they said.

    When Davy didn’t accept, the coaches assumed my husband and I were preventing him from joining the club, but we let them know the choice was Davy’s own. All we said to Davy was, “We know that you will do the right thing, Son.”

    Davy’s answer to the coaches was, “I would really like to join the club, but I don’t run on Sundays.”

    By the sixth grade, Davy had developed a real “kick” in his running that kept him among the top two or three runners in every school meet. Again came the invitation to join the running club. But this time there was an added incentive—the boys were planning to go across the country to compete in the national finals for their age group. The coaches and team members really wanted Davy to join them.

    But Davy came upon something that year that made his decision easier—he received the priesthood. He became a deacon. While he discussed the invitation from the running club with us, we asked only, “Son, what about your priesthood?”

    Davy’s answer to the team was, “I need to be in church on Sundays.”

    The club went to the national finals, competing against teams from all over the country, and won; they were the national champions.

    On the club’s return home, the school, the parents, and the club coaches were ecstatic with the accomplishment. The school held a special assembly with newspaper reporters and TV cameras. They called the boys up one by one as loud applause rang from the audience.

    Davy sat and watched as each boy received the recognition that might have been his had he chosen differently. My heart ached for him as I saw the tears in his eyes. I tapped him on the shoulder, and we left the cheering crowd. In a secluded spot, I held him tight and we cried together for a moment. Then I told him how proud I was of him. Davy had done what Heavenly Father expected of him. The admiration of the crowd and the recognition of the world are powerful attractions, but they have little to do with our eternal progress.

    A few days later I shared this story with a friend. Shortly afterwards, a letter arrived for Davy, along with a trophy. On the trophy was inscribed, “Davy: A Champion of Youth, 1987.”

    The letter read, “You were given agency to choose. … As you watched your classmates accept praise, I’m sure you felt left out. Thank you for your example. You are truly a ‘Champion of Youth.’”

    Illustrated by Mark Robison