Football | Freshmen balance faith, football
Weaver, Hartmann prepare for two-year Mormon mission
Published: Monday, November 19, 2012
Updated: Monday, November 19, 2012 08:11
“The answer is no, in case you were wondering,” Weaver said.
Others ask if they are Christian, or about what differentiates Mormonism from other religions; and, of course, about the limits of pursuing the opposite sex.
“You can make out with girls,” Hartmann says.
“That’s still pushing it, though,” Weaver chimes in.
In their first year on the football team, Weaver and Hartmann have had plenty of opportunities to teach their teammates about their faith.
“If it gets brought up, all of the sudden you’ll start getting bombarded with questions,” Weaver said. “That’s a fine thing. I think it’s cool that people just want to know and are interested.”
Still, if ever they are feeling alone, they have the Mormon community for support. At Tufts, according to Hartmann, there are 11 Latter Day Saint students who meet every Thursday night. At the University Ward in Cambridge, Mormons from 16 different Boston-area schools gather each Sunday.
And in Bush Hall, Weaver and Hartmann have each other.
“It’s kind of nice at the end of the day to go back home with someone that has the same values and the same thought process as you,” Weaver said.
“I think it’s definitely a good thing,” Hartmann confirmed.
As Sunday church services begin, Weaver and Hartmann are at the front of the ward, blessing the sacrament — preparing small plastic cups of water and slices of bread to be passed around the room. It’s the second straight week they’ve done it, Hartmann says.
Twenty-four hours earlier, Weaver was putting together his first 100-yard rushing game in a Tufts uniform, while Hartmann was leading the defense with 12 tackles.
Now, with the football season over, they won’t don the brown and blue again for almost three years.
Starting next summer, Weaver and Hartmann will be missionaries and nothing else, every moment of every day, for two years. To prepare, they attend “mission prep” classes on Sundays, where they practice teaching and speaking about their faith. They also talk to family members — Weaver’s dad and both of Hartmann’s parents went on missions, Hartmann’s brother is currently serving in Argentina, and Weaver’s brother got back from Peru a few months ago.
Still, no amount of talking can get them fully ready them for what’s to come.
“Nothing can really prepare you completely,” said Ben Wanamaker, one of the leaders of the University Ward in Cambridge. “You do a lot of training before you go, but there’s no substitute for the actual experience.”
On top of the spiritual struggle, a two-year mission can take a huge physical toll. When Duke left for Washington, he was a 285-pound offensive tackle. In the first few weeks of his mission, he put on 20 pounds from junk food. Then, he began losing weight. When he returned home, he weighed 198 pounds. Some people didn’t even recognize him.
“It was definitely humbling to come back and try to play football,” he said.
There are other challenges, too. Missionaries are allowed just two phone calls per year, on Christmas and Mother’s Day, and they only have access to email once a week.
But Weaver and Hartmann have no second thoughts about leaving.
“I think there’s a time and place for everything,” Weaver said. “We might get a little chunky or a little too skinny, depending on where we go, but we can work that out over the summer.”
Regardless of what happens to them physically, their faith will be tested every day.
“They’re gonna have hard times,” Duke said. “When someone says to your face, ‘What you believe is false, you’re wasting your time,’ you really have to be like, ‘No, no I’m not.’ You really have to be sure in that.”
Now, Duke is as confident in his faith as ever. After an interview in the Tower Cafe last week, he reached into his backpack.
“I brought something for you,” he said. “Have you read The Book of Mormon?”