Jeremy Vuolo had a promising career ahead of him as a soccer player, but instead left it behind for a higher calling.
The newest boyfriend of 19 Kids and Counting star Jinger Duggar, Vuolo was in the prime of his career in 2012. He had just finished up his collegiate career at Syracuse University, where the 6-foot-3 goalkeeper was named the team’s MVP and was nominated for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award, given to the nation’s top student-athlete.
Vuolo was recruited to play for the Finnish club AC Oulu, in Finland’s top soccer league, before returning to the United States to play for the New York Red Bulls of Major League Soccer.
But that’s when he decided to leave it all behind, People reported. The son of a pastor from Pennsylvania, Jeremy Vuolo, felt called to join the ministry himself, and decided to take a break from the top soccer league in the United States.
“I could not see myself spending another year devoted to the game that I no longer had an unbridled passion for, all the while putting on the backburner what I perceived to be my true calling,” Vuolo said (via PhillySoccerPage.net).
He left for a missionary trip to the Philippines, a year during what would have been his peak earning period for soccer. Vuolo worked on relief aid in the Asian nation, then returned back to sign with the San Antonio Scorpions of the North American Soccer League.
The decision to give up one year of his life and his career came after a period of personal difficulty for Jeremy Vuolo. He started college at Hartwick in Upstate New York, but fell into drinking and partying and said it was leading him down the wrong path.
“Mid-way through my sophomore year at Hartwick College I came to a low point in my life — I had allowed certain sins to grow in my heart unabated, leading me down a precarious path,” he wrote in a blog post. “I recognized and hated these sins yet was left perplexed and discouraged when I perpetually succumbed to them.”
It was then that Jeremy Vuolo realized he needed a change, and gave up his partying ways to start a Christian outreach group.
After moving beyond his past troubles, Jeremy Vuolo has grown even stronger in his faith and has written about how he looks to God when he may feel disappointed in life. In an essay for the Christian sports website Beyond the Ultimate, Vuolo said his identity is not shaped by his athletic skills but instead by his faith in Jesus.
“As an athlete, everyone knows they are going to suffer disappointments and experience joy and have successful moments. The same is true in life. How you decide to handle these things in life is a process I am slowly learning. It comes down to having your basic identity in something other than your skill, yourself, or circumstances around you.
“I believe my identity needs to be in something that never changes: Jesus Christ. For me, it begins and ends with finding my identity in Christ and not in my on-field skills, not in relationships I have, not in my accomplishments or in the way people perceive me. I know my identity is found in the person of Jesus Christ — who He is, what He did for me, and the unconditional love He has shown for me.”
Jeremy Vuolo is not the first person to reportedly be courting Jinger Duggar. There was also speculation that she was dating William “Lawson” Bates, star of the UPtv reality show Bringing Up Bates, but the relationship was never confirmed.
[Image via YouTube]