Nearly five years ago, Bronco Mendenhall left the sidelines of BYU’s LaVell Edwards Stadium for a new head coach position—coaching the Cavaliers at the University of Virginia.
Bronco Mendenhall recently did an interview with Deseret News where he discussed his decision to leave BYU, building the program at Virginia, and more.
Prior to the 2019 season, Bronco Mendenhall lost his father, Paul. His father had served a mission in New Zealand and had served as a mission president there and was tied to the Maori culture. At his father’s funeral, Mendenhall shared his last memory of his father. He was pulling out to leave when he saw his father walk out with his cane and perform the Haka. Mendenhall said he was just in tears as he watched his dad through the rearview mirror.
His team surprised him by honoring his father before the season opener. The 2019 season started with a game against Pitt, a rival in the league that they had not beaten for three years. Each time the UVA Cavaliers arrive in an opponent’s city, they go to the stadium for an inspirational thought before going to the hotel.
“I was in the locker room having some quiet time,” Mendenhall told Deseret News. “The team was walking the field. A player came and said, ‘You’re needed on the field.’ I went out there and my team was aligned in formation and did the same Haka that my dad did, as my last memory of him. I didn’t know anything about it. It was the most beautiful gift that I ever received.”
In the interview, Mendenhall also shared his gratitude for his time at BYU and explained how his time coaching there shaped him. “It was formative in who I’ve become as a person,” he said. “It’s been formative to my faith, my family views, and my professional competency. Without my time there, the success that’s happening at UVA doesn’t happen. Everything that I’ve learned through my experience there has helped me in preparation for what I’ve taken on here, which was even a more difficult challenge.”
READ THE FULL INTERVIEW AT Deseret News.