Monday, June 4, 2012

Chase Hilgenbrinck - Professional Player to Priest

"I couldn’t have dreamed this up for myself. I think that’s what’s truly divine about it." 1  

Even if we had an above average dedication and love for the game, most of us simply lack the natural talent to become a professional player. When someone does have that talent, it’s easy to think that it was meant to be, that it’s a gift from God; yet, this week’s Cool Cat serves to remind us that there are gifts greater than promising athletic careers.

In 2008, Chase Hilgenbrinck walked away from a career in the MLS to join the seminary. He didn’t walk away while he was near retirement, nor because he was injured. He had just spent four years playing professional soccer in Chile, becoming something of a celebrity, and had just signed up for a short stint with the Revolution. It was after only four games that Chase made the break, cutting off the Revolution’s offer of extending his contract. He instead switched to a career where heaven’s the limit.

Of course, God’s call did not become apparent to him overnight. After making his childhood faith his own during his college years, it became his cornerstone while he was in Chile. Separated from everyone he knew, Chase became terribly lonely, so he turned to the one thing he did know: the church. Not lacking for time, Chase would take advantage of the peaceful space to think about why professional soccer didn’t feel fulfilling, and why he felt lonely even with a girlfriend. It was tough eventually giving up the desire for a wife and kids, but through prayer Chase found himself moving naturally toward his new vocation.

And how did he celebrate the end of his discernment? With champagne! Such is the act of man who did not feel cheated in being called away from the pros. Though it was an act so counter-cultural as to make headlines, it did not surprise those who actually knew him.

Three years into his seminary education, how does he feel about his decision? “At the time I left soccer, I wanted to be obedient to my faith and to the call of God I heard in my life,” Hilgenbrinck said. “I never realized that I would be as happy as I am actually going through with everything.” (

If your interest has been piqued by this week’s kicking cool cat, be sure to check out the articles listed below, which each provide a more thorough and better written account of his life than this lowly blog post.

More on Chase Hilgenbrinck:
"What Ever Happened To ... Chase Hilgenbrinck" (