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Sander Breaks Kill Record

Taylor Sander had 13 kills Saturday to lead the Cougars to another home victory. But one of those kills will be etched in the stone of BYU Volleyball history.

After taking the first set, the Cougars found themselves trailing the Cal Baptist Lancers in the second. Sander shut down the Lancer attack with a block as his team battled back within two. On the next play, the Sandman got his eighth kill, narrowing the lead to one, but also landing himself in the top spot in the record books. The very next play, Sander solidified his position by getting another kill that tied the score at 21 in a set the Cougars would go on to win. During a time out, the announcement was made and fans rose to their feet to pay tribute to the king of kills. But Sander knows his accomplishment represents the team he plays on.

"It feels really good. It's a special moment for me, but I can't do it without my teammates and we’ve just got to keep working and play good the rest of the season," Sander said.

With 1,563 career kills, the Sandman moves past Robb Stowell, seizing the number one spot for total kills in the rally-scoring era, and moving to number two all-time. Sander averages 16.3 kills per match, so his performance Saturday night wasn't anything out of the norm. Head Coach Chris McGown says his leading scorer acted like it was business as usual. 

"He's never said a word to me about it. I've never said a word to him about it. I didn't hear anybody on the team talk to him about it. I think these things are just a product of playing well and so we don't think about it too much,” McGown said.

Sander continues to add to his own number, but is still 234 kills behind all-time leader, Ryan Millar, who racked up 1,797 kills during the side-out scoring era. Taylor's record is just another milestone for the Cougars, who have six regular season matches left and a comfortable lead in conference as they look to return to the National Championship. 

“It's certainly a nice achievement for him but it's not what we're about right now and it isn't really part of the culture of this team to think about records. It's about, let's win this match and then, let's win the next one and the next one. Let's keep getting better," McGown said.

As the Cougars continue to get better, Sander will finish his senior season as one of the best. 

From the desk of Alan Miller, assistant producer of “BYU Sports Nation” on BYU Radio.

The Book

Some of my favorite memories are of times spent with my family. Whether we’re having a serious dinner conversation, or playing games while doing the dishes, heading for a walk around our neighborhood, or dashing off on a trip, the memories are great. And very soon, I’ll get to be off on a relaxing vacation with them! I could not be more excited!

My mom is very good at making sure our vacations are fun, relaxing, and, organized. Her organization has made the difference when we have traveled far from home. Instead of sleeping our days away or not knowing where to go, her planning has helped us in knowing the best places to visit and where to eat. 

A few years ago, my family traveled to Disneyworld. We’ve been to Disneyland multiple times, and have the how-to-have a-good-time down to a science. We hadn’t, however, been to Disneyworld in an incredibly long time. My mom, wanting to be prepared, researched travel guide books to find the one that would best aid us on our trip. She finally chose a book she thought would work the best. I can’t remember what the name of the book was. But in our family it became known simply as, “The Book.” 

“The Book” had everything. It told us the days of the week that were the least busy, the best times of year to visit, the average wait for rides, day-to-day play-by-plays that would instruct us which ride to go on first, which show to see at what time, where to get a snack, and which bathroom to use. The list of the wonders that “The Book” gave us was endless. My mother was in heaven with the organization and structure “The Book” provided. And we were happy to know we’d be waiting the least amount of time, while getting the most out of our trip.

We joked about “The Book” as we prepared for our trip, and even more so while we were on our vacation. But the culmination of “The Book” jokes came when, while standing in a line at Disneyworld, we saw another family poring over “The Book” as well. My mom shouted, “Oh look! They have ‘The Book,” too!” We proceeded to dub our family, and also theirs, “People of ‘The Book.’”

These wonderful family jokes are what make vacations unforgettable. Perhaps even more memorable than the location, places visited, and what we ate. It’s great to know that I can have fun with my family and laugh with them no matter where we are.

I’m heading off on a trip with my family soon, and in order to be prepared, we’ll be bringing “The Book” with!

From the desk of Maddy Richards, who helps produce "The Morning Show with Marcus Smith" on BYU Radio.

The Close Friend Clothes Copier

My best friend and I bought the same pink shirt, at the same time, in the same store, but we only agreed to buy it if we both promised to never wear it on the same day. After wearing it once, every time after that, we “just happened” to wear it on the same day, every time! I no longer hang out with that best friend because I’ve fallen into the newlywed trap of exclusion (aka only spend time with your spouse). I thought this would help me avoid awkward “same outfit” days, but this same phenomenon happened with my husband, too! I would get dressed, and low and behold, he would walk in moments later with the same colored shirt. We usually didn’t notice until we were out in public getting funny looks. Oops! I would just blame him. But, then, I would make the same mistake. On more than one occasion we’ve gotten plenty of jokes about trying to be the “matchy-matchy” newlywed couple. 

Today on “The Matt Townsend” show we are talking about the influence that our friends have on us. I’m sure my friends have influenced me in more than one wonderful way. But the most prevalent way I have noticed their influence is through wardrobe. I don’t expect you to have such a severe case of “close friend clothes copier syndrome,” but I would bet you have seen it in other people. Have you ever noticed how married people always tend to look similar? I must argue, this stems from the same syndrome I have. It seems that if you spend enough time with someone, you begin to look like them. The look-alike marriages could also be a result of our thinking we are beautiful: We fall in love with someone who looks like us. Or, we are comfortable looking at a face like ours. In any case, I give credit to the “close friend clothes copier syndrome”: We begin to look like those whom we spend the most time with. 

From the desk of Jessica Black, who helps produce The Matt Townsend Show on BYU Radio.

Celebrities Break Their Fingers, Too!

Breaking a finger is both painful and inconvenient. And while not a show stopper when it comes to hosting talk radio, it sure is a conversation starter with celebrities.  

A week after I broke the middle finger on my right hand, I set off to Hollywood to introduce new products to celebrities in an Oscar weekend gifting suite. Attending Oscar parties and gifting-lounges are the norm for Hollywood stars who often donate their gifts to their favorite charitable organizations. During the gifting suite, companies have the opportunity to share their new product or solution with Academy Award-nominated celebrities and popular TV stars. Having participated in many of these Oscar weekend events over the years, I have met many wonderful celebrities who appreciate the introduction to new products. Honestly, as fun as it sounds, it is a back-breaking, 3-days-on-my-feet-experience. But it does come with the glamorous benefit of literally being in a star-studded surrounding.  

This year I brought my daughter Maddy along to help. With a broken finger, things like opening doors, pulling suitcases, and setting up displays would not be easy. Plus, this was a great opportunity to spend time with my oldest who is getting married in June. Maddy and I were hoping for sunshine. But when we arrived at the fancy Beverly Hills hotel, everyone was abuzz with storm warnings. Indeed, torrential rain pounded the streets, overflowed the gutters, and, the lovely roof top setting at the hotel flooded.  

Despite the drama of the “natural disaster” (side note: to those of us from Utah who are used to lots of snow, it seemed trivial) we were finally set up to welcome celebrities to the event.  As I introduced myself to celebrities in the suite, the middle-finger splinted cast and my refusal to shake, was an obvious conversation starter.  

“How did you do that?” “Why are you flipping me off?” and “Gee, I guess you didn’t like my movie!” were some of the comments I heard. Then, I would tell a fantastic story about how I really didn’t break my finger and we would laugh. Some of the celebrities would go on to tell me how they had broken one of their fingers or toes. We chatted about how painful and irritating it is to have a broken appendage. A couple of the gracious stars shared some healing advice.

Soon, I’d get back to business and introduce the stars to the company representative who was patiently waiting for their picture with the celebrity. But before they left, some would wink or wave and tell me to take care. It was fun to share a moment with these larger than life celebrities over a broken finger. I wished for one of those old-time plaster casts so that I could have asked them to sign my finger. Ha! Ha!

Now that I am back from the rain-soaked glamour of Oscar weekend in Hollywood, my finger is out of its splint and I am carefully opening doors and shaking hands as my finger heals.  As I look over the photos from the event, I don’t see the glamorous stars as I usually do while reviewing photos after Oscar weekend. Instead,  I see the guy who broke his finger while building a wall, the girl who hurt her wrist while sailing, and the guy who offered to break my other fingers so I’d match! Yes, I see celebrities, but I also see friends who broke something, too.  

From the desk of Kim Power Stilson, host of The Kim Power Stilson Show on BYU Radio.

It's Not A Race, It's A Journey

Let's recap:  

First the loss to Loyola Marymount, then the loss to Pepperdine; a 0-2 start to WCC conference play put the Cougars in a deep hole back in January.   Cougar Nation’s faith dwindles.

Following the losses the Cougars rattled off five straight wins and moved up the WCC standings.  Cougar Nation’s faith grows.

An unexpected triple-overtime loss to Portland and a loss to Gonzaga halts the win streak at five and all but destroys BYU’s chances of an at-large tournament bid in March.  Cougar Nation’s faith is crushed.

March 8:  The first day of the West Coast Conference Tournament and BYU’s last attempt to secure a ticket to the NCAA tournament. A win against Loyola Marymount will pit BYU against San Francisco in the semifinals.  A loss will end the postseason bid for BYU.

March 10:  The Cougars dismissed Loyola Marymount with little effort, but a physical San Francisco team lay in store, and with a win; a showdown against WCC powerhouse Gonzaga.

March 11: BYU steps off the Court after having beaten San Francisco in an overtime thriller the previous day; but losing handily to Gonzaga by 11. Dave Rose’s squad just doesn’t have enough left in the tank to secure an automatic bid. The waiting game continues for that elusive NCAA invitation. 

Fast-forward to March 17, in the dark theater room of Coach Rose’s private theater sits 12 restless players and their coach. It’s Selection Sunday and BYU’s name hasn’t been called.  

The play in game is announced.  No BYU.

The South Bracket is announced.  No BYU.

The West Bracket is announced.   No BYU.

All but that last flicker of hope remains for the Cougars.

Now to the East Bracket where Oregon the 7 seed will be playing the 10 seed Brigham Young University Cougars!  An invitation to play in the tournament.

For this Cougar basketball team, it was all joy. As the experts projected BYU to be on the bubble right to the end, BYU did just that. With a good showing at the WCC tournament, a great RPI, and strength of schedule; BYU played themselves into the tournament. This BYU squad received an invitation to play in the 2014 NCAA tournament this past Sunday, and the Cougars deserved it. 

Coach Rose’s team this year went across the country and back, they scheduled a brutal non-conference schedule, and they battled in a much better than anticipated West Coast Conference to a respectable second place finish. 

This years’ team has broken the hearts of Cougar Nation, but has also been the only source of hope. This years’ team now has the chance to battle to the end and exert revenge on the Oregon Ducks and prove to the nation that BYU deserved its’ invitation to the tournament. 

For the Cougars its win or go home. 

From the desk of Spencer King, who helps with BYU Sports Nation on BYU Radio.

Harvard Sappy Blog

Over the weekend, my brother announced to our family where he had decided to go to Law School. He’d been admitted to many places, and we were all anxious and excited to find out where he and his wife would be spending the next three years.

They walked in with matching sweatshirts, maroon and grey, with the Harvard Law School logo nicely displayed. We were floored, excited, a little sad, but mostly ecstatic. Sad because they will be living so far away from us, but very excited for their new opportunity. Harvard Law will be perfect for my brother and sister-in-law, complete with amazing adventures, I’m sure. 

The exciting announcement left me reflective, as I’m finding most things do. When did life fly by so quickly? I remember when my brother and I were little kids, playing with jump ropes and action figures. 

Life happens fast. It goes by before you really know what’s happened. 

So, take pictures. Appreciate the seemingly little moments. Revel in the mess, chaos, and dramatics of youth. Don’t be in any rush to grow up, because it will happen more quickly than you’d like. When you laugh, really laugh. And when you cry, really cry.

If I could go back and talk to the little girl, me as a 10 year old, I would tell her - stay there, forever. Keep riding bikes, playing with Barbie dolls, reading with your sisters, letting your brother destroy your Lego house, and baking with your mom. 

I won’t pretend that I know much from my short 20 years alive, but I do think I know some things. And one of them is, that it seems like only yesterday I was a little, innocent girl. And from this recent weekend, I realized that I’m not that little girl anymore. 

And while amazing adventures like Harvard are replacing a trek to the park, both are extremely good. So, I’ve decided, I’m going to be wherever I’m at, and be happy there. Because tomorrow it will all be different, and soon enough it will all be gone. 

From the desk of Maddy Richards, who helps produce “The Morning Show” on BYU Radio.

Learning to Laugh

Over the weekend, I attended the wedding of one of my former roommates and good friend. It was wonderful. We stood around for hours to take pictures, laugh, eat, talk, and celebrate with the happy couple. It was great to spend the day with my friends, hold flowers, and enjoy being told I looked pretty. What more could a girl want?

At the luncheon between the ceremony and the reception, we got to give advice to the bride and groom. Everyone even remotely connected to the happy couple had the opportunity to say a few things about them, or about their relationship. One thing that the groom’s grandmother said stood out to me. This aging woman, a widow, who was accompanied by her children instead of her husband, shakily stood to give her words of wisdom to the newlyweds. She talked about “little fights” or “discussions” she and her husband inevitably got into. She spoke of an argument they had. They were sitting at opposite sides of the dining room table having an intense discussion, with a child sitting nearby, listening. Suddenly, in a lull during the argument, both of them started to laugh. Their son, very surprised, exclaimed, “You can’t laugh! You’re fighting!” This wonderful, elderly grandmother then went on to explain how important it is to laugh. Not at each other, but with one other. And to never get so angry that you can’t laugh. 

This woman’s wise words struck me, and won’t be easily forgotten. How often have I let an argument overcome the opportunity to laugh? How many times have I let a grudge ruin a great friendship? I hope I can take this smart woman’s advice, and never let laughter out of my marriage, or any other relationship I will have. I hope we all can laugh more, and in turn, love more, too. 

From the desk of Maddy Richards who helps produce The Morning Show with Marcus Smith on BYU Radio.

My Conversation with Storyteller, Regina Ress

What a pleasure it was a few weeks ago to chat on the air with Regina Ress, a storyteller who lives and works in New York City (find her online at In our conversation, we talked some about 9/11 (it had not occurred to me that as much as the story of 9/11 is a national story, it’s quite specifically a New York story). In the aftermath of the conversation, I looked around in my own memory to find the feelings I’d had in the wake of the falling of the towers. My memory says that the world, reeling in disbelief, was hungry for retribution – that the world looked very like it might erupt into war – that there were, in fact, many voices pushing the world in that direction. And my memory says that in those days, I felt a pretty keen sense that the fate of many would be in the hands of a very few – a deciding few. And I felt a kind of desperate need to believe a couple of things: I wanted to believe that the men who led us in that crazy time were good men, and I wanted to believe that the will of good men could turn the tide of the world. 

For comfort and solace in those times, I found myself turning to a source that may at first seem kind of weird. Some months before 9/11, I had flown to Japan. The in-flight movie had been Roger Donaldson’s film “Thirteen Days,” a film in which JFK (played by Bruce Greenwood, who has made a career out of playing Presidents of the United States), Bobby Kennedy (played by Steven Culp) and Kenny O’Donnell (played by Kevin Costner) work to avoid nuclear war during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. I thought it was a reasonably good film when I saw it on the plane. But after 9/11, I found myself reaching out for that film like a lifeline. I can’t speak to the historicity of the film. That’s not the point. I can’t really even speak to the quality of the movie. That, also, is not the point. The point is that it’s a story – a story in which the leaders of the world are depicted as good men, and in which will of those few good men is enough to draw the world back from the brink of global nuclear war. Again, fight me on the quality of the film, or the character of JFK and his associates, or the accuracy of the film in terms of historical details, and I’ll be quick to back down – the truth is, I’m not much of a historian. 

The bottom line is that I didn’t, in that moment, need history. I just needed story. And story was enough. When the stakes are high, that’s sometimes where I go for comfort and courage: a story. You? 

From the desk of Sam Payne, host of The Apple Seed on BYU Radio.


Every Day is a Miracle

By: Jessica Black

Yesterday my husband and I were driving to a basketball game; just a normal night like any other. As we drove down the road, we came upon four cop cars with lights flashing, a fire truck, and a very hysterical, crying woman. My heart broke for her. I didn’t know what happened. I could only tell that her life was changing in front of my eyes.

A couple of nights before this happened; my husband and I were driving down a different road when we came to a traffic light where cars were slowly merging into the right lane. As we followed the line of traffic, we could see there had been an accident and people were crowded around a man on the ground. I don’t know what happened here either, but both of these instances happened within the same week and I couldn’t help but realize how fleeting life can be. Every day is a miracle and I hope that each of us can live life to the fullest. Don’t wait for an accident to make you realize that your life is happening now. Go live your life, and remember that every day is a miracle.  

Jessica Black helps produce "The Matt Townsend Show" on BYU Radio.

Starter Switch

The BYU hoopsters are getting hot, late; not only late in the season as they head into the tournament, but late in games as well due to some changes to the starting lineup.

It was two weeks ago when the Cougars traveled to St. Mary's and BYU Big Man, Eric Mika, took a seat after he chalked up his second foul less than two minutes into the game. BYU Head Coach Dave Rose said he'd been thinking of making some changes to the starting lineup for a couple weeks, but it was that moment that solidified his decision. Coach Rose says he hoped that having Eric come off the bench would give his team an advantage similar to the same move he made with Matt Carlino earlier this season. "We get a lot of juice coming off the bench which I think is a real, you know, that five-seven mark into the first half when you're bringing in a couple guys that can really give you some athleticism and a real offensive and defensive punch," Rose said.

Since losing his starting spot, Mika has been able to come into the game and add some immediate aggression. With wins against Portland and San Diego, he says he's starting to feel comfortable in his new role. "I like it. It kind of gives me a chance to see how the game is flowing and being called. There's usually a couple of fouls picked up by some of the bigs in the first couple of minutes whether it's on our team or their team. So, my not being in there at all gets rid of any possibility of being in foul trouble the rest of the game," Mika said. He added, that he also likes his new role because by the time he comes into the game, other teams are already close to the bonus and he can take advantage of that.

As the Cougars head into their first tournament game this weekend, Mika will probably find himself on the bench again. But when Coach Rose calls his number, he'll be ready to go.

From the desk of Alan Miller, Assistant Producer of “BYU Sports Nation" on BYU Radio

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