When Kyle Van Noy suits up to face the University of Nevada this Saturday, he'll be returning home to put on one last performance in front of many adoring family and friends.
"Family and friends, I would say over 400," Van Noy said regarding how many are expected to be in attendance. "I think that's what my mom told me. I'm sure there will be a lot more, but it's going to be exciting. I'm just happy that family will be able to make it there. Some can't travel due to sickness and expenses, so I'm just happy everyone can make it to the game and I’m excited to play in front of them."
He’ll be playing in Mackay Stadium, where he helped McQueen High School win a state championship back in 2008. Playing his last regular-season game where he won a state championship will bookend his college career.
"We were dominant, man," said Van Noy. "I was thinking about it earlier this week when somebody happened to bring it up, an old friend of mine. We were probably one of the most dominant teams out of the north that's ever been through Nevada. It's kind of remarkable if you go back and look at the team, there's nine D-I players on that team, so we were stacked and it was a fun time. I think I only played one full game as a senior and that was in the state championship and it was a close game. We won like 14-13 or 13-12 and it was a fun game. It's going to be comfortable playing at UNR because that's where it happened."
When he returns home he expects to see many of those old friends. However, he doesn't expect to see his No. 3 jersey in the stands as much as would be expected.
"You know what's funny is, not really," Van Noy said with a smile when asked about whether he expects to see many people wearing his jersey. "Probably because I've changed my number so many times here that nobody really has it at home. I'm sure I'll see a lot at the game. My hand will be open for a hug to them, you know, just to recognize all they've been in my life, so it's been good to have people follow me this whole time in my career here. So, to finish it in Reno will be special."
Putting out his hands in a gesture of acceptance shows the heart of Van Noy, who in his younger years was criticized by many Reno locals for his decision to come to BYU.
"I still get criticized," said Van Noy with a smile. "But that's just the way life is and you just accept it and move forward. I wouldn't change my experience for anything. Whatever anyone says, that's their opinion and they can have that, but I have my own and I think mine's fine."
Van Noy is coming to the realization that the sunset of his Cougar career is slowly sinking over the horizon.
"It's crazy," Van Noy said. "You know, time flies when you're having fun, and I had fun. I'm just helping these younger guys understand that your time goes by fast and you need to take advantage of that because you don't know when it's going to be your last."
He wants to cherish these final moments with his teammates and coaches, having formed strong bonds with his Band of Brothers over the years.
"Me and Spencer Hadley had a talk about that, you know, going through what he's going through this year. He's been a good friend to me, and I'm grateful to have him. He just said, 'You never know when it's your last play, so take full advantage when you can.' I'm just trying to do that one day, one hour, one minute at a time – do the best that I can."
While last Saturday’s loss to Notre Dame does sting a bit, Van Noy knows he'll be returning home to an old familiar place to make things right.
"It was a pretty high game and the emotion that we put into that week, it wasn't fun coming out with a loss," said Van Noy. "I think being cold too even hurt even worse, so it was just wasn't fun. I feel like think this week will be huge for us to keep going and into the bowl game."
So when Van Noy heads home this week, he'll be with family and old friends. It's a fitting way to close out his BYU career by playing in front of those that have supported him over the years. On a week in which Thanksgiving will be celebrated, it's a heart-warming reminder of what's most important.
"I'm thankful for family," Van Noy said reverently. "I don't get to see them much, so I'm thankful for them."
There's a lot to be grateful for during this week of giving thanks. BYU fans are thankful as well. They're thankful for the great examples, community service, and years of great memories and joy brought to their hearts. In essence, BYU fans are thankful for Van Noy.