Hale Hentges is living “the dream.”
The 2015 football All-American graduate from Helias Catholic High School in Jefferson City just got married, scored a touchdown for the Alabama Crimson Tide in this year’s College Football Playoff National Championship game and is getting ready to try out for the National Football League (NFL).
“All glory goes to God,” the 22-year-old said. “The Lord has blessed me and I am grateful for it all.”
In reflecting on his college-football career, which ended a month ago in San Francisco with a tough 44-16 loss to the Clemson Tigers, the tight end said he can see God’s hand guiding him through the last four years.
While he was recruited by more than 25 NCAA Division I top football programs, including Missouri, he said he chose Alabama due to its warm, welcoming spirit.
“Everything set up for the athletes was very easy there,” he said. “All the classes were set up in a great spot, and the people there were so nice. I was also very impressed with their business school.”
Mr. Hentges earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing in May of 2018. He is currently working towards a master’s degree in marketing.
While playing football in the national spotlight has been awesome, even more awesome is the fact that he discovered his vocation while in Alabama.
“I know that God was calling me down here to meet my wife,” he said. Shannon Mikesky was a volleyball player at Alabama and the two met during Mr. Hentges’s sophomore year. He said it only took one date to know that she was “the one.”
“Once the date was over, I knew I was going to marry her,” he said with a smile. The two were united in marriage on Jan. 12 in Mrs. Hentges’ hometown of Schulenburg, Texas. “It was the best day of my life,” said Mr. Hentges. “We celebrated with family and friends from Jefferson City and from Tuscaloosa and of course all Shannon’s local family. We had more than 400 people there.”
He added that meeting Mrs. Hentges and realizing that marriage was his vocation was a real wake-up call for him to get back on track with his Catholic faith.
While he said he never really left the Church, those first few years away from home and out from under the wings of his Catholic parents, he didn’t always make the best decisions.
But when he met the woman who would become his wife, he saw it as a heavenly blessing.
“I knew I needed to get back on track and take my faith to the next level,” he said. “I knew that I need to be that person that she needs to get to heaven, and that has been my mission. I want to do things the right way.”
He noted as well that being a big-name student athlete has given him an incredible platform to influence people and spread the Good News.
One of his favorite Bible verses is Colossians 3:23, which talks of doing everything for the Lord.
“It is so easy for us (student-athletes) to spread God’s Kingdom,” he related. “I like to tweet out Bible verses or try to be a bright light when I walk into a room. I have been trying to do that when I can.”
He said that another part of that student athlete platform is being involved in the community. Along with his teammates, he has helped build houses with Habitat for Humanity and been involved with a ministry in Tuscaloosa that provides basic furniture needs to those in need.
“There are hundreds of kids here in the area who sleep on the floor at night and don’t have a table or chairs to eat or sit down at,” he said. People look up to us for support and faith.”
He told The Catholic Missourian that his favorite saint is St. Michael the Archangel. “That was my confirmation name, and he is also a patron saint of athletes,” he said.
He knows he’s going to need all the heavenly help he can muster in the next few weeks as he is getting ready for NFL Pro Day. That’s a day where NFL scouts from various teams will descend upon Bryant-Denny Stadium at the University of Alabama and watch him and other Crimson Tide standouts work out and run drills.
“If I do good there, there could be a small chance I could be drafted,” he said. “Hopefully the Lord will bless me in that way, and if not then He has a different plan. God is in control.”