Remembering a friend: Derek Jensen and the Utah State game ball

On Saturday Nov. 15, 2014, I drove to Logan to endure four hours of standing in 25 degree weather at the New Mexico-Utah State football game.

It was worth it, and not just because the game was fairly entertaining. The Aggies did eventually pull away in the second half to defeat the Lobos, 28-21.

My true purpose in going had more to do with friendship. A close friend had been chosen to receive the game ball. His parents and wife, along with others, would be there to accept the ball on his behalf.

Derek Jensen and his kids at a Utah State game.

Derek Jensen and his kids at a Utah State game.

My friend’s name is Derek Jensen. He is one of the biggest Aggie fans I have ever known. After graduating from Ricks College, Derek came to USU in 1997 and served as the sports editor for the USU Statesman until his graduation in 1999.

After graduation he went on to serve the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Tragically, Derek was killed in June of 2012 while riding his bike to work, leaving behind a wife and three young children.

I really miss my friend. He was a great listener and always gave me worthwhile advice. We loved talking sports and shared a lot of good memories. Most of all, I am grateful to Derek for his help in editing the Eric Weddle Story. I couldn’t have done it without his generous help.

I attended his funeral in Alabama and have remained in touch with his family. His parents called in the days leading up to the game to let me know that a guy named Brian Garrett, an old friend and colleague of Derek, had chosen him to receive the game ball at the USU game (the game was sponsored by Brian’s employer, Zions Bank). They invited me to be there, so I arranged for a field pass and came with my camera to shoot video and photos. Despite the chilly temperature, things worked out.

The Jensen family on the field at Romney Stadium.

The Jensen family on the field at Romney Stadium.

DSC_7596

The Jensen family receives the USU game ball on Derek’s behalf.

It was fun to become reacquainted with Derek’s parents and family members. His sweet wife Mina came all the way from Tennessee.

The ball was presented to the family in the third quarter. The fans cheered loud when Derek was recognized. It was a sweet way to remember my old friend.

Everyone came away happy, reflecting on fun times with Derek.

There have been some days when I’ve wanted to call Derek and catch up on old times. Then I realize the sad truth, that he’s moved on to the next life, where I know he is engaged in a great work.

Even so, my brother “D” will always be in my heart. His example and legacy lives on. We love and miss you Derek. God be with you till we meet again.

Share

Trent Toone

My name is Trent Toone and I’m a journalist for the Deseret News, where I write for a variety of feature sections. I was raised in Northern Utah and graduated from the University of Utah in 2003. Since then I have worked for several newspapers and received various awards over my journalism career. I am the author of “No Excuses, No Regrets: The Eric Weddle Story,” the sports biography of San Diego Chargers safety Eric Weddle. I served an LDS mission to Santiago, Chile, and spent a year teaching seminary. Like my father before me, I am a proud Eagle Scout. My wife Lisa and I have four children and live in Northern Utah. Feel free to contact me by emailing to trent.b.toone (at) gmail (dot) com.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *