BBA lax star will go on mission


Monday, June 29
MANCHESTER — As their high school days end and college preparations begin, many seniors aspiring to play sports in college are filling their summer days with intense workouts and practices.

On championship team

Ben Brownlee could easily be one of them. A star lacrosse player and starting center midfield for BBA, he definitely has the skills. He has had what he describes as his "best season" so far.

On June 15, he led his team past Lamoille for the Division II State Championship with two goals and an assist. But Ben, unlike some of his teammates, is not going to the gym — he's going on a mission.

According to Mormon tradition, when a young man turns 19, he is eligible to enlist in a mission. Brownlee, a Mormon who lives in Manchester, explained, "I will apply to go on a mission three months before I turn 19, so this July. As of now, I still don't know where I'm going."

Brownlee is not the first Mormon from Bennington County to go on a mission. A couple of years ago, one of his friends went on a mission to California, and he currently knows of missionaries in Alaska and Idaho.

Ordinarily, missions last for two years.

Upon completion of his mission, Brownlee will go to Brigham Young University, where his parents first met. While the school does not have Interscholastic men's lacrosse, they do have a good club squad, which Brownlee will try out for. If he wants to play lacrosse in the coming years, he certainly has the talent. According to his coach, Will Mackey, "Ben has great athletic skill, and he's intelligent, so he understands the game."

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While Brownlee was always a good player, he stepped it up a notch this year and emergedasa leader of the team. As Mackey put it, "He's been our leading scorer, but he's also been a great example to the other players about how to work hard at practice. He's always been someone who puts the goals of the team first. He's a great teammate."

"The season has been a lot of fun. We've been able to have a good year, but as our coach always talks about, it's not about always winning, but playing the best we can," Brownlee said.

Despite his talent for lacrosse, "religionhas alwayscome before sports," he said. When the team holds a rare Sunday practice, Brownlee does not go to it, as Sunday is the Mormon day of rest.

Overall, however, Brownlee has been able to balance the demands of both worlds. "Being a Mormon has helped shape who I am and helped me be a better person," he said.

And what do his friends think about his choice? "They think it's pretty cool," he said. "They seem pretty supportive of my decision."

With today's highly competitive college athletic programs, many parents feel pressured to push their children, sometimes too far, to play a sport.

For Brownlee, this was not the case. "(Going on a mission) has pretty much been what I wanted to do since I was a young kid," he said.

Brownlee one day hopes to become an engineer, either mechanical or electrical. Whatever he chooses to do in life, one thing is clear: He'll be on a mission.


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