BYU-Utah: Honoring Ty Jordan changed this BYU fan's view of rivalry

When the newcomer from Utah, Ty Jordan tragically died last Christmas night, an unlikely unsung source came to help and make a difference.

Nick Bruce, a former BYU student and big BYU fan, looked for ways to donate money to the Jordan family during their grief. But he couldn’t find one. So he set up a GoFundMe account on behalf of the family.

Bruce didn’t know the Jordans. But he felt compelled to do something positive in a dark time.

Thanks to donations, large and small, from Utah fans, BYU fans, and college football fans around the country, Bruce raised approximately $ 24,000. Many of the donations totaled $ 22 in honor of Jordan’s shirt number.

Bruce was grateful for the generosity and kindness of the audience. He gave the money and the account to Jordan’s brother.

“It was exactly the time they were trying to figure out the funeral and memorial service. I tried to keep our conversations as short as possible, ”said Bruce, who is currently attending a physical therapy assistant school in Provo. “Some people had doubts and reservations about donating to something unrelated to school or family.

“I have assured him that I will do everything I can to make sure the money gets to you,” he continued. “It was only a few days away from losing his brother. He was very grateful for that. There was so much love from everyone, not just Utah and BYU fans, but from everyone Ty touched in his life. “

Since the fans weren’t allowed to see matches in person last season, they couldn’t cheer for Jordan in overcrowded stadiums. Bruce remembers watching Jordan run through the defense on TV last season wondering how much trouble he would cause the BYU defense in the future.

Although Bruce loves the Cougars, he came to appreciate and respect Jordan’s personality and running skills.

“I didn’t know Ty. I never met him. I’ve never seen him play in person or anything. But he had a smile that lit up the TV and you could tell that there was something special about him, ”said Bruce. “Lots of people in this world who had the chance to meet him, and he had an impact on them. But there are thousands of people like me who have seen him playing soccer on TV and seen some interviews or pictures of him. That was enough for them to realize that he was a special young man. “

The experience of setting up a GoFundMe account for a player who was playing for the rival school completely changed Bruce’s view of the BYU-Utah rivalry.

“Since we’re a year away, some people have forgotten a bit. Not about Ty – I don’t think anyone will forget Ty. But about the unity we had during that difficult time that the Utah family was experiencing, ”said Bruce. “On Twitter I saw things go back to the old banter, some upset and some well intentioned on both sides. I wish people could hold onto the love that was shared during this time and the oneness that was felt even though we are rivals.

“This week’s game is huge for both teams. It’s bigger than soccer. I saw the ‘Moment of Loudness’ they had for Ty last week in Utah. Hold back goosebumps and tears. It was wonderful. I hope that as fans this week we can remember that this rivalry is fun but much bigger than the winner. It’s bigger than red against blue. We’re all in it together, like in the pandemic, ”he continued. “When tough times come, like the situation around Ty and what we’ve been through last year, and having the chance to all get together and actually be at a soccer stadium in person and enjoy a soccer game, I hope people hold up it good-natured and funny, rather than cutthroat like in years past.

“For me, it definitely opened up a new perspective on the rivalry. There is a lot of love and respect for Utah fans and the team, for the people who have been so generous and turned to Ty and his family in times of need. “

Bruce was happy to hear that BYU has created a flag in honor of Jordan that the team will phase out and then present to the Utah team before the game on Saturday (8:15 p.m. MDT, ESPN) at LaVell Edwards Stadium.

“It would be well deserved to take a few moments before, during or after the game to show him respect,” said Bruce.

The flag was created in coordination with Utah with the same logo that Utah players will wear on their helmets this year to honor his memory. Utah will use the flag throughout the season as the program pays tribute to Jordan.

Since Bruce is no longer a student, he is looking for a ticket to Saturday’s game.

“I can’t stand not being there,” he said. “I have to find a way to get there.”

Not only is this the last scheduled meeting between BYU and Utah through 2024 after the game was canceled last year, it also marks the 20th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks.

In addition, BYU’s Keenan Ellis suffered an injury last Saturday’s season opener against Arizona in Las Vegas and stayed on the turf for a long time before being put on a stretcher and rushed to hospital.

It was reported on Sunday that Ellis got out of bed, ran, and had no serious back or neck pain.

Those who watched the game either in person or on television held their collective breath while Ellis lay motionless on the floor. Bruce watched the game on TV that night.

“I had a couple of friends who were in Las Vegas for the game,” said Bruce. “I could feel what it was like at home on TV. The energy was sucked out of the game. ”

It served as another reminder that life is fragile. Jordan’s death and tribute to his life; Ellis Health Fear; and the 9/11 commemoration will converge on Saturday night at Edwards Stadium amid the BYU-Utah 2021 rivalry game.

“Everyone realizes that what’s going on is bigger than the game. Those kids who play – it’s easy to make them invincible heroes – but they’re just kids, “Bruce said. “Things can change so quickly. Things seem to be going well for Keenan Ellis. I hope everything goes on like this. Unfortunately, Ty won’t have that opportunity. It is important that we recognize that. “