During a recent qualifying basketall tournament in Uraguay for the 1988 Olympics, Karl Tilleman, a guard on the Canadian Natinal Basketball Team, placed a poem he ad written on a bulletin board in the team's dressing room.
"I told my teammates how much I loved them," said Tilleman, a counselor in the elders quorum presidency of the Grandview 9th Ward Provo, Utah. "It wasn't long before several notes began appearing on the board just before big games. The coach grabbed me afterward and said, 'I saw your faith take you through a lot rough times . . . . I saw a lot of guys depend on your faith.'"The Canadian team finished third at the tournament, defeating the home team for one of the tourney's three Olympic berths.
Tilleman isn't the only Latter-day Saint who will be handling a round ball at the summer Olympic Games in Seoul, Korea, Sept. 18-Oct. 2. Troy Tanner, also a returned imssionary, will represent the United States as the newest member of the men's volleyball team.
After the 1984 Olympics, Tilleman served in the california Arcadia mission and later married Holly Walker of Calgary, Alberta. In the 1984 Olympics the Canadians finished fourth, losing by three pints to Yugoslavia in the game that decided the bronze medalist.
One of his goals when he returned form his mission was to regain his place on the national team.
"I wanted to prove to myself and other people that going on a mission doesn't affect your athletic career," tilleman said. "If you serve the Lord, He is going to help you do what you want to do."
It took about a yar for him to get into good physical condition again. An now he feels he is a better player because of his mission.
"The experience and discipline of a mission have put persective in my lofe and that helps me perform better," he said.
Though he was an active Church member before his mission, he said he is no longer embarrassed to pray or read his scriptures in front of his teammates.
"I think the influence has been good on my team," he said. All of a sudden no one wants to drink anymore. My teammates got together and decided that 'Let's all not drink.'"
One recent Sunday, while the team was training in new York, one of his teammates asked him where he was going.
"I said, 'I'm ging to Church,'" Tilleman recalled. "He said, 'Do ou mind if I come along?'"
Tilleman's role on the team is to shoot, especially form the 3-point range. He's usually the first player off the bench, and he's expected to enter the game and score.
Troy Tanner of the Pacific Beach Ward in San Diego, Calif., is known more as a passer and a swing hitter on the U.S. Volleyball Team. Tanner, and all-American at Pepperdine University inLos angeles, was one of 12 picked from 60 hopefuls for the Olympic squad.
"He's playing relaly well right now," said his father, Rolf Robert Tanner of the Encinitas (Calif.) 1st Ward. "He has been on the team for a year."
The 6-foot-3 Tanner is not a regular starter but receives a lot of playing time in specialty roles, his father said. He recently had to bounce back from arthroscopic surgery on his knee to make the team.
"Lucille (Tanner's mother) and I have done a lot of praying to amke sure his knee would be all right," his father said. "If he continues to play well, he probably will stick with the team long after the olympics."
During the last Olympics, he was serving in the Japan Sendai Mission. Like Tilleman, Tanner proved that serving a mission doesn't derail an athletic career. In fact, most of the LDS Olympians competing this year are returned missionaries.