Church News - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

BYU's Legacy Hall: A treasure trove for Cougar fans

Sports museum celebrates school's rich athletic history
Published: Saturday, Feb. 16, 2013

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PROVO, UTAH

For hard-core Cougar fans, a visit to Brigham Young University's Legacy Hall promises double helpings of wonder and BYU sports memories.

Here in this three-story atrium located on the west side of the Church-owned school, visitors can relive — or perhaps experience for the first time — the glory of, say, the Cougars' 1984 football national championship; Danny Ainge's storied coast-to-coast drive against Notre Dame; and the rise of a BYU hoopster referenced worldwide by a single name — Jimmer.

BYU has sponsored an athletic program for over a century. Thanks to its Church affiliation and international student body, Cougar fans can be found across the globe. Legacy Hall gathers in one locale many of the trophies, awards and images that have defined the school's rich athletic tradition and legacy.

Opened in 2004, the 7,436 square-foot hall includes dozens of display cases and wall displays that tell the story of BYU sports. Even casual Cougar watchers will recognize many of the items on display, including:

Steve Young's NFL Super Bowl MVP trophy.

The John Wooden Awards given to both Danny Ainge and Jimmer Fredette — recognizing athletes from two different eras as the top players in college basketball.

Photo by Jason Swensen
A large, interactive display at the BYU Legacy Hall chronicles the impressive number of BYU athletes who have served the Church as full-time missionaries throughout the world. A three-dimensial map shows where athletes have been called.
Photo by Jason Swensen
BYU Legacy Hall celebrating the school's athletic history.

The golf bag used by alum Mike Weir when he won the 2003 Masters in Augusta, Ga.

And Ty Detmer's 1990 Heisman Trophy — the first and only Heisman awarded to a BYU football player.

But even the most "fanatical" fan will likely learn something new at Legacy Hall. Several of the museum's wall displays and video kiosks celebrate the national achievements of BYU athletes in events that don't often claim space on the front of the sports page, including swimming, cross country, women's soccer and men's volleyball.

The museum also includes several items noting the accomplishments of BYU athletes at the Olympics and in the professional ranks. Admission to Legacy Hall is free of charge and open to all ages. Youngsters enjoy the many interactive features and video displays. They can even stand toe-to-toe with a silhouette of 7-foot-6-inch BYU center Shawn Bradley.

Photo by Jason Swensen
A popular display includes Ty Detmer's 1990 Heisman Trophy — the first and only Heisman awarded to a BYU player.

Another highlight is the "Called to Serve" display located on the east end of the museum. The names of BYU athletes who have, or are presently serving, full-time missions are attached to a large map of the world. Photos of returned missionaries include a missionary-era image of Dennis Pitta, a former BYU gridder who recently scored a touchdown in the Super Bowl.

Photo by Jason Swensen
BYU Legacy Hall celebrating the school's athletic history.

Every year, the museum makes space to accommodate new achievements in BYU athletics. Legacy Hall shares space with BYU's Student Athlete Center, just north of the George Albert Smith Fieldhouse. So each day, current BYU athletes walk past inspiring reminders of past Cougar glory. The center's director, Trevor Wilson, said the museum remains a powerful recruiting tool for would-be Cougars visiting the campus. Hundreds of other fans can be expected to take in Legacy Hall each week during busy football weekends and other popular sporting events. The museum is staffed almost entirely by volunteers.

Photo by Jason Swensen
BYU Legacy Hall celebrating the school's athletic history.

Legacy Hall is open Monday through Saturday, 7 a.m. until 9 p.m. Tours are available. For more information, call 801-422-2118.

jswensen@desnews.com