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Surfing or Seminary?

Wendy Kenney

A young man from California decided between surfing and seminary—and never looked back.

Name: Sean Kimball Age: 18 Hometown: Laguna Beach, California Accomplishments: First-place finish in National Scholastic Surfing Association Junior Championships; member of California Southern Section Division III championship high school boys volleyball team; Eagle Scout; priest.

Sean Kimball loves to surf. So, naturally, he tried out for his high school surfing team. On the team he was expected to practice before school on Tuesdays and Thursdays, even though that meant missing early-morning seminary. After a while, however, Sean noticed that things just didn’t go as well for him on those days.

 When did you realize that seminary was more important to you than the surf team? I had been torn between surf team and seminary, but I knew then that I needed to give up the surf team so I could go to seminary every day. I talked to the coach. He knows my family, and he understood. My friends told me I was letting the team down, but once I’d made up my mind, nothing stopped me. But a cool thing happened when school started this year. My surf coach called and asked if I’d be willing to compete in the Thursday-morning surfing contests as long as he places me in the heats that are scheduled after seminary. He respects that I’m going to seminary, but he really wants me on the team, so he’s going to make sure I can do both.

How will this decision prepare you for serving a full-time mission? Going to seminary puts me in the right place at the right time so that I can have the Spirit with me. I’m learning the scriptures I need to know for my mission. The same people who encouraged me to go to seminary are now helping me prepare for a mission—my family, especially my older brother, my Young Men leaders, seminary teachers, and mission preparation teacher.

You play volleyball, too, and you’ve helped your team win three championships. How do you handle Sunday tournaments? I don’t participate in volleyball tournaments or surfing events on Sundays. After my mission I’d like to get involved in organizing surfing competitions that don’t conflict with the Sabbath. That’s how I hope to make a difference in the surfing world.

How do you want to be remembered after you graduate from high school? I hope they’ll remember me as an athlete who doesn’t compete on Sundays and stands up for what he believes in. I want people to know that I have a testimony of the Lord and the Book of Mormon.

What is your favorite scripture? Romans 1:16: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth,” because, like the Apostle Paul, I will never be ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

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