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Higher Calling
Jonesboro grad Sean Cheney signs up for two-year mission with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

By Rory Sharrock

rsharrock@news-daily.com

Former Jonesboro multi-sport star Sean Cheney leads a well-rounded life, balancing athletics and spirituality as his daily vitamin for structure in this unstable world.

He strongly believes in family values, community service and has dedicated himself to personifying the holy scriptures of Book of Mormon - specifically chapter nine verse 22 where it says, 'For behold, thus said Jesus Christ, the Son of God, unto his disciples who should tarry, yea, and also to all his disciples, in the hearing of the multitude: Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.'

On Oct. 15, Cheney will transform these words into action as he travels to Poctallo, Idaho as part of a two-year mission of service with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

A devout practitioner of the Mormon faith, Cheney has been preparing for this mission since childhood and is eager to begin the next phase of his life well beyond county and state lines.

"When I got my call, I was expecting to go a far away place outside the country. But you have to come to the realization of this is where I'm supposed to be. Who knows, something I might say could touch someone's heart," said Cheney.

Cheney's time as a missionary will be a far contrast from his days as a student-athlete with the Jonesboro Cardinals.

While at the mission, he'll spend countless hours reading, praying and talking to people about his faith. Although he'll have Internet access and e-mail contact, he'll be isolated from family and friends without a cellular phone.

Unless there's a serious emergency, the only time he'll speak with his loved ones is on Christmas and Mother's Day.

"I'm definitely going to miss my family, being able to chill here on Friday and Saturday nights watching football games and playing with my dog. But I know that my family will be blessed because I'm doing this and it will be for the better," said Cheney.

During his high school days, Cheney participated in a variety of sports, competing in football, basketball, tennis, golf and soccer.

While on the gridiron, he suited up as the kicker and blasted his way to the top of the stat sheet as one of the premiere special teams players in the country.

Cheney ranked No. 1 on prokicker.com for the 2007 season in kickoff distance (57.25 yards), hangtime (3.64 seconds), punting distance (29.70 yards) and punt hang time (3.83 seconds).

During his senior season, his accurate leg connected on 90 percent of his field goal attempts, including hitting a 60-yard score, which is a career long. He also was perfect in his point-after-touchdown kicks.

On the hardwood, he was a playoff-tested forward under basketball coach and athletic director Dan Maehlman.

Last season, he and his hoop teammates went 24-6 and 11-1 in Region 4A-AAAA. The squad advanced to Elite 8 of the state playoffs before being eliminated by Fayette County 45-43.

When the spring season hit, Cheney split his time playing tennis, golf and soccer.

All the while he was grounded by his faith and it helped him manage his time between the demanding schedule of three varsity sports in one season.

"My faith has kept me well-rounded. It's given me hope to win games. Sometimes it's not all about winning, but to learn from experience and grow from it. It's also helped me be goal-oriented. If you have faith and put in the practice time, the Lord will make a way for you if it's the right thing to do," he said.

Following a superb senior year, both in and out of uniform, Cheney graduated with flying colors, passing with a 3.3 grade point average.

Upon completion of his missionary service, he plans to return to home and suit up as the kicker for the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in 2010.