In some ways, getting fired was a blessing.

I've had more time to think about who I am as a husband and a father, but also as a Christian. When I was a coach I was in such a rush to do everything that I often failed to take a step back and analyze my faith. I thought I was all in back then, but now that I've had time to step back and reflect, I could tell that maybe I wasn't. If God had asked me to give up coaching at ASU, I don't know that a younger me would have just said yes. Now that I've completely surrendered my life over to Christ, the answer is always yes.

I read a book called 2 Chairs, which really helped change my life. I read it when I was still coaching, but now that I have had a year off from football, I've had more time to live it out. The book is about a mother who sets up two chairs and sits down with her coffee to just try and talk to God and have a conversation. I highly encourage you to give it a read.

Now that I am open to anything God is saying, and I am prepared to say yes, it's made it easier for me to listen to specific things God is trying to put in my heart. I'm also not going into my conversations with God with a goal or an intent already in mind. If I have my mind made up that I want to do something, it might just be myself trying to speak on God's behalf when I'm sitting in my chair.

I also have to give my wife credit, because she made the wise decision of having me take a year off. I had a opportunity with several colleges and NFL teams, but my wife told me not to take them. It would have temporarily put our family in two separate states, and my wife was right when she said I should decline the offers. Being a good husband means taking more than myself into consideration.

Looking back at it now though, it's kind of funny to think about...Mike Bercovici was the one who showed all that patience, and now here I was itching to get back on the sideline. But my year off actually gave me a chance to catch up with all sorts of old players, including Mike and Taylor.

But I do know this: when I get back into coaching, I won't need a certain team or job title to find happiness. The most important coach I ever had in my life was not my college coach or high school coach. It was my middle school coach, Buddy.

He never got to play for a state championship or become famous, but he played a huge role in my life. My parents were getting divorced at the time, and my mom was working three jobs to make ends meet. She was working at AT&T by day, then working at a textile company sewing patches on uniforms at night, and working at the Hallmark Card store at the mall on weekends. The person who had a chance to spend a lot of time with me back then was my football coach.

He was the one who was always tough on me in public, but when he'd get close up to you, he'd whisper in your ear “you’re a champion.” He was the one who showed me Christ, and at 12 years old I accepted Jesus into my life.

I hope when the kids I coach accept Christ into their hearts, they can look back and say that I helped them get there.

A few months after I was let go I texted one of the staff members on the team and asked if the players were still expected to attend a Bible study. His response took me by surprise. There was no voluntary Bible study anymore and no chapel on the team. And yet the staff member texted me that it was better now.

“What do you mean, better?” I asked.

“The players are leading the Bible study,” he told me. “The players are leading the chapel.”

That meant more to me than any coaching award ever will. That is what we call planting the seed.

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Thomas Hager11 Comments