Former NFL quarterback speaks at Hurricane Valley Chamber’s annual awards dinner

Former NFL quarterback Jay Schroeder speaks during Hurricane Valley Chamber of Commerce's annual dinner at Sand Hollow Resort, Hurricane, Utah, Jan. 16, 2019 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News

HURRICANE — During his keynote remarks at the annual awards dinner for the Hurricane Valley Chamber of Commerce, former NFL quarterback Jay Schroeder talked not just about football, but how the sport can teach important life lessons.

Hurricane Valley Chamber of Commerce President DeWynn Nelson speaks during annual dinner at Sand Hollow Resort, Hurricane, Utah, Jan. 16, 2019 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News

“I love the game of football. Football’s a great game for young men to figure out who they are,” Schroeder said as he addressed approximately 100 businesspeople and community leaders Wednesday night at the Sand Hollow Resort clubhouse in Hurricane.

Schroeder’s 11-year professional career included stints with four NFL teams, including the 1988 Super Bowl champion Washington Redskins. After his retirement as a player, he went on to coach high school football in both California and Southern Utah.

“I started coaching because I love kids and I love the game,” said Schroeder, who currently lives in Washington County and is an assistant football coach at Desert Hills High School.

Schroeder spoke fondly of a player he once coached who was extremely dedicated to his team, despite his relatively small size (5-foot-8 and 140 pounds),

“He’s now a Navy pilot,” Schroeder said.

Speaking of another of his former players, Schroeder said he was a bit surprised to learn that the young man had gone on to become a high school football coach and athletic director.

The young man told his former coach he had been inspired to follow in his footsteps. “I’m going to treat kids the way you treated me,” Schroeder quoted the former player as saying.

“That’s what it’s about,” Schroeder told the audience.

Many of the lessons of football also apply to life in general, he added, as he encouraged the adults in the audience to strive to work on their communication with teenagers and younger children.

Hurricane High School senior Alexis Martin, second from right, receives “Student of the Year” award during Hurricane Valley Chamber of Commerce’s annual dinner at Sand Hollow Resort, Hurricane, Utah, Jan. 16, 2019 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News

He suggested trying to have more face-to-face communication, as opposed to texting, along with more time spent doing outdoor activities versus passively watching an illuminated screen.

“Get them outside,” he said. “Get involved with the youth.”

Schroeder also shared several insights from his NFL playing days. He related when, during a Monday Night Football game in 1985, he suddenly went from his comfortable “perfect job” as backup quarterback to being called upon to take the field midgame after regular QB Joe Theismann suffered a career-ending leg injury while being tackled.

Schroeder said as Theismann was being attended to on the field by medical personnel, he watched Redskins head coach Joe Gibbs on the sidelines throw his clipboard to the ground and exclaim, “Now what the hell do we do?”

“Meanwhile, I’m standing right next to him,” Schroeder said as those in the audience laughed. “I had to go find my helmet.”

Unexpectedly thrust into his new role as the team’s main quarterback, Schroeder helped guide the Redskins to victory over the New York Giants in that game, along with numerous others wins over the next few years. He ended up playing 11 seasons in the NFL, completing a total of 1,426 passes for 20,063 career yards and 114 touchdowns.

At the conclusion of his remarks, Schroeder answered questions from the audience on several topics, including concussion injuries, memorable touchdown plays, playing with Bo Jackson, his college days at UCLA, his all-time favorite coach (Gibbs) and his unrealized professional baseball career (originally drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays, Schroeder played in the minor leagues before switching to play football in the NFL).

Also during the meeting, it was announced that 2018 chamber president DeWynn Nelson will continue to serve in that same role in 2019.

Retiring from their membership on the board were past president Pat Galvez and vice presidents Joseph Prete and Rod Smith.

Nelson said afterward that he is looking forward to serving as president for another year, and working with the board and chamber members throughout 2019. He thanked all who helped organize the banquet, and the various sponsors for their support.

“The Hurricane Valley Chamber is looking forward to having more events this year,” Nelson said, mentioning as an example the upcoming chamber breakfast meeting at Lonny Boy’s Restaurant, 980 W. State St., on Jan. 24 from 7:30 to 9 a.m.

Joining Nelson on the chamber’s 2019 board of directors are president-elect Nic Lauritzen, Ike Turner, Bryce King, Connie Zdunich, April Chesley, Chris Gifford,  Kim Mensch, Kris Smedley, Sharon Shores, Paul Zolman, Damon Atkinson and Orion Parker.

Following is a listing of the awards presented at the banquet, along with short descriptions of the recipients.

Business of the Year

Members of Davis family, operators of Davis Farmers Market, receive “Business of the Year” award during Hurricane Valley Chamber of Commerce’s annual dinner at Sand Hollow Resort, Hurricane, Utah, Jan. 16, 2019 | Photo courtesy of Andrea Stratton Photography, St. George News

Davis Farmers Market received the “2018 Business of the Year” award from the Hurricane Valley Chamber of Commerce.

Jim and Debbie Davis, along with sons CJ and Lee Davis and other family members, are nearing 32 years in the grocery store business, having started with stores in Vernal and Roosevelt.

The Davises opened their La Verkin location in 2012, and have since expanded the store by adding another 10,000 square feet, including a hardware section.

The Davises said they attribute the company’s success to the dedication and hard work of each employee, as well as the loyalty of and friendship with customers that has been fostered over the years. They consider it a privilege to work with the Hurricane area’s close-knit community and feel honored by the support they’ve received.

Small Business of the Year
The “2018 Small Business of the Year” award was presented to Hurricane Family Pharmacy, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary later this year. It first opened in April 2009 by pharmacist/owner Cliff Holt, who started with three employees and filled one prescription on the store’s first day. Family Pharmacy now has more than 20 employees and operates a second store in Gunnison, Utah. Together over 10 years, the two locations have grown Family Pharmacy into one of the largest independent pharmacies in Utah.

Businessperson of the Year
Kris Smedley, store manager at Davis Farmers Market in La Verkin was named the “2018 Businessperson of the Year.” Smedley has been in the grocery business for 33 years, including many years at Safeway. He has been involved in many civic clubs and organizations and is on the board of the Hurricane Valley Chamber of Commerce. 

Hurricane school counselor Jody Rich, center, receives “Educator of the Year” award during Hurricane Valley Chamber of Commerce’s annual dinner at Sand Hollow Resort, Hurricane, Utah, Jan. 16, 2019 | Photo courtesy of Andrea Stratton Photography, St. George News

Educator of the Year
For the second year in a row, longtime local educator Jody Rich was named the chamber’s “Educator of the Year.” Rich received the award last year while he was Hurricane High School’s principal. He has since shifted to a different role, serving as counselor for both Hurricane Middle and Hurricane High schools.

“In May 2018, he decided to step down as principal to do what has been his plan for years – go back to counseling,” states Rich’s biographical sketch, which quoted him as saying: “I absolutely love everything I do with kids. It provides me with the opportunity to reach as many kids as I can.”

Rich said he believes the job change has given him a chance to simplify his life and go back to helping kids full time, thereby enabling him to enjoy more time with his family.

Community Service Award
Connie Zdunich, the community outreach coordinator for Spilsbury Mortuary, received the chamber’s “Community Service Award” for 2018. Zdunich was recognized for her volunteer work with hospice groups, the Veterans Coalition and various community boards.  

“Community involvement has always been high on the priority list in our family,” Zdunich states in her biographical sketch. “We love to serve and become part of the community in which we live.”

Zdunich and her husband Joe retired to Southern Utah in 1999. They enjoy hiking, camping, travel, serving in their church and doing year-round activities, including spending time with their family, which includes seven daughters, 19 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Also a Hurricane Valley Chamber of Commerce board member, Zdunich says she enjoys interacting with the wonderful people who reside in the Hurricane Valley and loves working with board members to help make things happen in the community.

Dixie State University Hurricane Education Center Student of the Year

Dixie State University Hurricane Education Center student Allyson Swenson, second from right, receives “Student of the Year” award during Hurricane Valley Chamber of Commerce’s annual dinner at Sand Hollow Resort, Hurricane, Utah, Jan. 16, 2019 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News

Hurricane resident Allyson Swenson was named the “2018 Student of the Year” for DSU’s Hurricane Education Center, and received a $250 check as part of the award. Swenson is now in her second year of college, working toward a degree in dental hygiene. She is a married mother of two young children, and enjoys shopping, traveling and spending time with her family.

“Between working, school and family she is kept very busy,” her bio states, adding that Swenson is grateful to the Hurricane Education Center Staff, and particularly math instructor Michele Poast, for their efforts in helping ensure her continued success.

Hurricane High School Student of Year
Hurricane High School senior Alexis Martin received the chamber’s “2018 Hurricane High School Student of Year” award, also earning a $250 scholarship check.

Hurricane High School senior Alexis Martin receives “Student of the Year” award during Hurricane Valley Chamber of Commerce’s annual dinner at Sand Hollow Resort, Hurricane, Utah, Jan. 16, 2019 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News

The oldest of four girls, Martin and her family moved from Henderson, Nevada, to Hurricane during her sophomore year. She is a straight-A student with a 4.0 GPA, and has been involved in numerous activities, clubs and sports. She has learned Spanish through an immersion program and is also her school’s general Sterling Scholar nominee. Martin is also the defending high jump state champion in track, the only 4A athlete to clear 5-feet-6 at last year’s state meet.

Martin said after graduating from Hurricane High School this coming May, she plans to attend the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York, where she has been recruited by track and field coaches.

“West Point’s focus on leadership, academics, and athletics aligns with her own priorities,” her bio states, adding that she has not yet decided on a major field of study.

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Email: jrichards@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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2 Comments

  • Carpe Diem January 18, 2019 at 6:44 pm

    Love you Jay! Keep it up!

  • htown January 19, 2019 at 4:24 am

    Ah Coach, good to see you spreading the love. Always appreciate your efforts in the community. Glad Bo didn’t hit you with an arrow, and glad you made good on the steak dinner bet at the baseball All Star game. Your friend.

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