Since he began attending the University of Utah, Devonta’e Henry-Cole knew that he wanted to be involved in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Coming to Utah from Boca Raton, Florida, he was unsure of how to take the first step. What he didn’t know was one of his teammates and friends on the U football team would be such a huge part in his journey to become a member in the church.
“I was interested in the church since my freshman year. I loved everything about the church and then I took a little lesson and I just felt it and I knew everything was right,” Henry-Cole said.
Enter Chase Hansen, a member of the Utah football team who is an active member of the church. Hansen is a returned missionary who served his mission in Brisbane, Australia. According to him, conversations about religion were present with the team but the level of interest Henry-Cole showed was more than what others had shown.
“Around the football team you’ll occasionally have those discussions, but it’s very rare. Devonta’e and I got really close. We were really good friends first and he started asking questions, deeper questions that you ask people you are close to and eventually we started having conversations about religion and faith and stuff that isn’t real common around football groups. It was very cool and very unique,” Hansen said.
“Chase saw I was going through it,” Henry-Cole said. “I brought him along, I wanted some help, someone by my side that is LDS. Chase helped me a lot throughout the whole process.”
When Henry-Cole did decide to make his transition into the religion, the mantra of the football team of “Utah football family” was rather true. Not only were Henry-Cole and Hansen present, three other members of the team were there for the big day as well. Joining the pair were Dylan Slavens, Mason Woodward and Britain Covey. Covey, who had just come off his own mission, said it was great to see him make the journey into the religion.
“It was great, we used to have lessons with the missionaries every week and just to see just like everyone who went on a mission can see, when you feel it in you heart first, and you kinda change and you don’t know what is changing,” Covey said. “He felt a change happening inside him and he attributed it to what he was doing and it’s cool because he didn’t have this perfect knowledge of the restoration he didn’t know a lot about church doctrine but he knew it was good and he felt it.”
When Hansen was asked by Henry-Cole to baptize him and officially make him a member of the church, Hansen was honored to be able to play such a key part in this moment. He also believes that for Henry-Cole to take the steps to be baptized shows growth as a person.
“He wanted to grow and he wanted to be better and he was already a really great dude but even since then he’ll text me and we’ll talk about things he’s trying to improve on and do better at honestly that’s just the type of guy he is, he’s always trying to better himself and be a better version of himself, which I love about him,” Hansen said.
According to Henry-Cole, having a brother and teammate in Hansen made the process easier.
Henry-Cole feels that this experience has changed the way he approaches the game of football, especially after coming back from a season-ending wrist injury last season.
“All I know is that I have a Heavenly Father over me, over the team protecting us and making us stay healthy and everything. I came back from a wrist injury but all I know is I’m going to get a blessing before the season and be healthy through the season,” Henry-Cole said.
Hansen believes that since becoming a member, Henry-Cole’s views on a lot of things have changed, like his outlook on life. While along with the game of football, Henry-Cole believes that joining the religion helps keep his morals straight, to always try and stay on track and to try to be perfect with everything.
Both Henry-Cole and Hansen believe that this experience has made them closer, both on the field as well as in their personal lives. Henry-Cole also says it was a good thing having Hansen with him as he took this journey.
“It was an awesome experience for everyone who was involved, it was one of the best experiences of my life and I’m super grateful for it and I got a really good friend out of it too. I’m really happy for him,” Hansen said.
This article is part of the Poynter College Media Project. Click here for more stories and information on the topic “Are U Mormon?”