Former National Football League quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and his wife, Sarah, both BC ’97, found love and God while at Boston College.
The couple were the featured speakers for the final Agape Latte talk of the year this past Tuesday night in Hillside Cafe.
Preceded by a packed opening performance by student band Juice, which occupied the Hillside space in the 7:30 slot, and a plug for donating to the senior gift, the couple seized the attention of over 100 attendees, conversationally explaining the story of their lives and how their faith played an inseparable role in it.
The Hasselbecks met during their freshman orientation here on the Heights. Sarah joked that her first impression of Matt wasn’t immediate love, admitting that he was cocky.
He had good reason to be, too. He was the new freshman quarterback with high prospects in a professional career beyond college football, and he had some seriously admired hair as well.
Regardless of Sarah’s initial hesitation, the budding of a relationship between the two seemed fated when they ended up residing on the same floor in Gonzaga and realized their shared religious upbringing and aspirations.
Matt in particular struggled with merging his longing to be a servant of God with his desire to uphold his quarterback persona.
“How do I follow Christ and be the tough football player on the field?” Matt said.
He attributes his experiences at BC as pivotal moments in fostering his ability to remain on the path to faith, including one-on-one conversations in the Conte weight room with his training coach and serving as an orientation leader. A service program he was skeptical of participating in particularly struck a religious chord for him, as it placed him in direct contact with a leper whose hope-filled strength inspired him to seek strength and trust in God.
“I wish I had what this guy had,” Matt said
In the early days of their marriage and the dawn of Matt’s time with the Green Bay Packers, the couple began to realize something special about couples with faith. Teammate Danny Wuerffel and his wife quickly became role models for each, as he taught Matt the importance of knowing why he believed what he believed and she inspired Sarah with her selflessness and pure generosity.
“This aroma of Christ … I knew I wanted what she had,” Sarah said.
God’s plan interceded in their lives with Matt’s trade to the Seattle Seahawks. The couple began forming their own community there, parenting three children and adapting to the Pacific Northwest. While Matt notes that this segment of their lives called his attention to remaining humble like Jesus, Sarah attributes her growth in possessing a positive attitude to her kids.
The NFL lockout presented a new obstacle the couple would overcome, as it resulted in Matt’s trade to the Tennessee Titans. The move to the south evoked a change in culture that cultivated a deeper appreciation for God, as they were inhabiting Nashville, the home of Christian music.
The couple’s new relationships with warm new faces motivated their growth in caring for others, Sarah said.
Their involvement in charity work was another major addition to their lives in Tennessee, producing a passion for such organizations as Charity Water that carried into the last years of Matt’s career with the Indianapolis Colts.
This passion was imbedded in their children when the couple decided to embark on a family service trip to South Africa. One of their daughters crafted a short film about the charity’s efforts to increase clean drinking water that sparked a movement at her school, ultimately resulting in over twenty-three thousand dollars raised.
The couple closed the discussion of their life journey together with the message of trusting God’s plan. While they didn’t expect or even want many of these different adventures and challenges, God’s plan prevailed and allowed growth in self and faith unachievable without divine guidance.
“We don’t know what the game plan is but we know who our caller is,” Sarah said.
Featured Image by Lizzy Barrett / Heights Editor