BYU soccer player Paige Hunt still a missionary at heart

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Paige Hunt with her companion at Purdue University. Hunt returned from her mission and back to the BYU women's soccer team in July 2015. (Paige Hunt)
Paige Hunt with her companion at Purdue University. Hunt returned from her mission and back to the BYU women’s soccer team in July 2015. (Paige Hunt)

A typical mission day for BYU soccer player Paige Hunt would begin at 5:30 a.m. She’d run for an hour, study scriptures then prepare for a day of teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Hunt put her collegiate athletic career on hold for 18 months to serve a mission for the LDS Church. The decision was potentially hazardous to her soccer playing.

“After a mission, you just don’t know,” coach Jennifer Rockwood said. “So much can change while you are serving.”

But the thought of losing her talent did not deter Hunt from serving a full-time mission in Indianapolis, Indiana. She knew that God wanted her to serve and there were specific individuals only she could touch.

“I was comfortable where I was at,” Hunt said. “But I figured that I should ask Heavenly Father what he wanted me to do and it turned out that He needed me to serve.”

Hunt was determined to incorporate soccer with missionary work. She would organize ward sports nights and help coach practices for local soccer teams. In both cases she found a way to teach the gospel to those that initially had no desire to listen to missionaries.

Hunt was also assigned to multiple universities where she and her companion would work near the athletic areas of campus. Hunt knew that she could relate with athletes and they would in turn be curious as to why she was serving a mission. It was during this time that she discovered one of the reasons God wanted her to serve.

Paige Hunt takes the ball down the field at the game against the University of Utah. This is Hunt's first season back on the team following her mission. (Natalie Bothwell)
Paige Hunt takes the ball down the field at the game against the University of Utah. This is Hunt’s first season back on the team following her mission. (Natalie Bothwell)

“I ran into her on campus and I saw her jacket and it said ‘Purdue Soccer’ and I was like ‘Oh my gosh, I play for Brigham Young,” Hunt said.

It was an immediate ice-breaker between the two. For Hunt, it was a refreshing experience to teach a fellow athlete. For the Purdue player, it was a moment of curiosity as to why Hunt would leave soccer to serve a mission for 18 months.

“It was totally natural,” former mission companion Mikesell Clegg said. “It wasn’t awkward. It wasn’t like the missionaries were talking to her, but rather her friends who wanted to share a message about Christ.”

The two missionaries began teaching the Purdue soccer player and she was later baptized. But the miracle didn’t end there. Hunt was soon invited to come play for fun with many of the women’s Purdue soccer team players.

The experience gave Hunt another opportunity to use her talent to share the gospel with people who may have never initially listened to the missionaries.

“Heavenly Father gave me that chance to practice a little bit and I realized I hadn’t lost much,” Hunt said. “At the end of playing the obviously had some questions, so I was able to teach them a bit about the gospel. It was a huge tender mercy.”

She found a way to combine her talent with missionary work and this was the reason God asked her to serve a mission. It was her talent that brought the gospel to people’s lives.

“She was so diligent,” Clegg said. “She would put her mind to it and see it was done.”

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