Nov. 18, 2002
- by Lindsey Burket, Kansas State Sports Information student assistant
Faith. Family. Service. Helping others to be their best. These aspects all would be on the pages of senior quarterback Marc Dunn's playbook for the game of life.
Dunn put those plays into action following his graduation from Box Elder High School in Utah when he put his rising football career on hold to embark on a two-year Mormon mission in the villages outside of Santiago, Chile.
"It was time for me to go and experience something new," Dunn said. "It was definitely hard to leave football, but I just felt that at that point in my life that it (going on the mission) was the most important thing to sustain the growth and development to be the kind of person I wanted to be."
The mission involved long hours of work in poverty-stricken areas of Chile, where Dunn helped by teaching, building and completing homes, and spreading his faith. The missionaries usually worked from around 6:30 a.m. until close 11 p.m.
The countless of hours of work and surviving on little sleep was difficult , but Dunn's strong will, combined with his outlook on life, kept him going through the long hours.
"It was just helping other people, and that is what life is all about," Dunn said. "It's amazing when you see the expression on little kids' faces and realize you are not the ultimate, and that helping other people is the most important thing."
Amidst his strict schedule on the mission, Dunn still managed to find ways to keep in shape. He would stretch his morning an hour earlier, waking up at 5:30 a.m. to go running or do pushups or pull-ups. Finding ways to work out also required some creativity at times, as Dunn would make use of loose lead or metal in the streets to try and do some curls.
While many athletes lose their desire to play football or sports after partaking in a mission, Dunn's desire for the game he loves was greatly enhanced.
"It helped me see a bigger picture for sports, especially the game of football, because it's a team-oriented sport," Dunn said. "If you get the guys around you and make the guys around you better, that's what the mission taught me, that's the most important thing to do."
Upon his return to the U.S. and to football, Dunn elected to attend Ricks College in Rexburg, Idaho. He quickly showed he had not lost any of his flare during his mission as he broke National Junior College Athletics Association passing record in 2000, throwing for 4,001 yards in 10 regular season games, and was named the 2000 NJCAA Offensive Player of the Year.
K-State's rich tradition of winning football games brought the junior-college star to Manhattan, and Dunn said being a part of a program that's undergone a tremendous turnaround in the past decade was something in which he wanted to be a part.
Through all the things that someone playing for a top-rated college football program goes through, the lessons Dunn learned on his mission have stuck with him.
"When I'm with the guys on the team, I try to put my needs and wants last, and put theirs first, and make them the best they can possibly be," Dunn said. "I think especially for a quarterback, that it's the most important thing you can do to let those guys know that, 'hey, I'm here for you, and whatever I can do to help you and help this team win football games, that's what I want to do'."
Offensive coordinator Ron Hudson has said Dunn's moral strength, as well as being religious and family-oriented, are among his greatest characteristics. Hudson also noted that Dunn doesn't swear, even in intense competition.
"He has a lot of positive characteristics that anyone would be proud to have," Hudson said. "He also keeps problems inside himself. Some kids would be more boisterous and negative, but he has never displayed that."
Dunn still continues to practice his religion here in Manhattan, attending the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints on a weekly basis. He says he greatly enjoys the people in the church and the community, and practicing the Mormon religion in this setting was never a large concern.
"I think one of the big misconceptions that people have about the Mormon culture is that we stick with Mormons and only Mormons, and that is not true," Dunn said. "I came out here, and I love to see different views and different perspectives on things, and to embrace everything I can possibly embrace. That's one of the things we teach, to not judge anybody for believing something different or doing something different, but to accept everybody and hope for the best for everybody."
Upon concluding his career at K-State, Dunn's positive attributes will stay with his teammates for a long time. In addition, Dunn will have many new lessons to add to his playbook, as he continues to move forward in the game of life.