Generally, taking a two-year break is not advised for athletes hoping to make it anywhere, especially Major League Baseball.
But returned missionary Riley Ottesen says his two-year mission not only helped him mature mentally, it also made him stronger physically.
"It helped me a lot," Ottesen told mlive.com about his mission. "You can't go to a country you've never been to, live with a companion you don't know, learn to speak a language you don't know, and talk about something you aren't completely familiar with and not become a more mature, better person. . . . The break helped me physically too. I added 25 pounds to my body. I got stronger. My arm had a chance to rest and recover."
Ottesen, who served his mission in Japan, says his pitches averaged about 90 miles per hour before he left on his mission. When he returned, he pitched up to 96 miles per hour, quite a feat considering he hadn't so much as picked up a baseball in two years.
Since his return from his mission, Ottesen says he hasn't had any problems with his throwing arm, a danger all pitchers face. And after two seasons playing for the University of Utah, Ottesen was picked up by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2017 draft.
"I spent two years talking about the gospel, meeting people from a different country," Ottesen said. "It was worth it."
Watch the full interview below: