Faith and football collide for Hunter Lee in Spain
Former Louisiana Tech receiver and tailback Hunter Lee has been actively involved in Christian ministry since he stopped playing football.
Starting in January, Lee will begin a journey to combine these two life passions.
With the help of friends from both Louisiana Tech football and The Bridge Community Church, Lee discovered an opportunity to play professional football with the Badalona Dracs and be involved in a missions agency in Barcelona, Spain.
"What it really is, I'm going there as a mission, but my job is also to play football," Lee said. "The two things I'm most passionate about."
In light of his upcoming journey, the 2011-2014 Bulldog wideout recently took the time to talk with BleedTechBlue.com both about his future in Europe and his past at Tech.
Looking forward to Barcelona
Lee said the idea of playing overseas came into his mind when he met a man at The Bridge who recruits football players in Turkey. Lee then turned to a friend from Tech football, Houston Bates, who now plays as a linebacker for the Washington Redskins.
Bates helped Lee get connected with coaches and recruiters in Europe. To Lee's surprise, it wasn't long before he started being contacted.
"I really didn't expect anything," Lee said. "I mean, I'd been out of football for two years. But this coach from Barcelona called me up, and he told me what all it entails. It was a good enough deal, and I was like yeah, that sounds really cool."
A man Lee knew through The Bridge informed him that Austin Stone Community Church in Austin, Texas had their central missions hub located in Barcelona. The chance to be involved in a missions agency while in Spain was the final straw to convincing Lee that this was God's plan.
"There's a lot of uncertainties, and I'm sure there are a lot of parents who would be like, 'this kid's an idiot,'" Lee said. "But I don't really care, honestly. I'm excited and staying focused on the here and now, because that's what really matters."
While football will be his actual job while in Spain, Lee said he plans not to place undue worry on that part of his life, when there's something even more important he'll be working for.
"Whatever happens with football happens," he said. "I'm not going to stress it. This is a fun game, and I'm going to make the best of it and have a good time. But the Gospel is very dead in that area, and I want to be a part of spreading the Good News and watching God work in some amazing ways."
Lee said he hasn't thought too far ahead about the future, and he plans to take whatever comes his way in stride.
"Ministry is my life," he said. "There's nothing specific I'm really striving for down the road. Past Barcelona, maybe I'll get called up to play in Germany. I'm open to whatever happens, as long as I can provide for myself."
Lee said he has learned to ignore worldly expectations for his life.
"By no means am I making as much as I could," he said. "I've got an industrial engineering degree sitting on my fridge. People are probably thinking, 'when's he going to grow up and make some real money?' But I've come to realize it's not about the money."
Looking back to the Bulldogs
Growing up in Dallas, Texas, Lee had never even heard of Louisiana Tech until his junior year of high school. He finally found out about the Bulldogs in a rather unorthodox way: a video game.
"I never would have imagined coming here," Lee said. "But I played NCAA 2005, created my player, and put him at Boise State. They were in the WAC and came down to play Tech. In the game, the background behind the stadium just looked like one big swamp. I said I would never go to a place like that! Now look where God has brought me."
Lee's Bulldog career overlapped for two years with that of current Tech standout Trent Taylor. Lee said Taylor still serves as an inspiration for his own play.
"When Trent first came in, I was immediately jealous of how well he controls his body while running routes," he said. "When I run my routes, I try to mimic how Trent Taylor runs his."
Lee ended his Bulldog career with 1,891 total yards of offense and 15 touchdowns. Since graduating, Lee said he has enjoyed Louisiana Tech fans even more than he could before.
"It's been cool since I've been out of football: going to tailgates, meeting fans," he said. "For people to be able to recognize my face, that blows my mind. When you're out there in the community, you can see the people who literally bleed red and blue. It's cool to be a part of something with people who are so in love with it. The people in this community are just absolutely amazing."
Now, as Lee prepares to move on to another phase of football in a very different place, Lee wants the diehard Tech fans to know what they mean to him.
"I love them, they're my family," he said. "They make me feel special. Tech will always have a special place in my heart, for the relationships I've built, the opportunities I've been given, and the stories I've been able to make. I would never have chosen another school."