Jinger Duggar is courtin’ y’all! The 22-year-old Duggar daughter is officially dating 28-year-old Jeremy Vuolo, a graduate of Syracuse University who has played soccer for multiple professional teams in the United States and Europe.
That’s correct — Jinger Duggar is dating an international professional soccer player six years older than she is. Now, before you “Free Jinger” folks begin popping those Champagne corks, I should point out that Jeremy Vuolo is a devout Christian who is following in his pastor father’s footsteps. Ordained in the ministry earlier this year, Jeremy makes numerous public speaking appearances and has a number of sermons under his belt — and on YouTube. (More on that below.)
Here is a video of Jinger and Jeremy (Jingeremy?) together announcing their courtship:
So how did Jinger Duggar and Jeremy Vuolo meet? Jinger reveals in the clip that the two met on a mission trip in May. “It was there that I really saw his heart and really admired his character,” she says. “It was after that that he contacted my dad and asked if we could get to know each other.”
“I was initially friends with Ben Seewald and Jessa,” Jeremy tells People, “and it was through them that I got to meet Jinger. We are very excited to begin this journey together.”
UPDATE – Jeremy has since shared the full story of how he met Jinger on his new website:
I met Ben and Jessa Seewald through an interesting happenstance: Ben and Jess were in San Antonio for a few hours on a Sunday night. Ben called a buddy of his to see if there was anything going on for them to do while in San Antonio for the evening but, providentially, that buddy of his was working. So he suggested to Ben that they go to a church fellowship that was happening at my house and it was there, at that fellowship, that I met Ben and Jess for the first time. Over the next few weeks Ben and I would call and text here or there just to keep in touch about how God was working in the ministry or to share an encouraging word from the Scriptures. It wasn’t long before we developed a friendship and two and a half months later I made a trip to visit Ben and Jess and it was then that I met Jinger and the rest of the family. Over the rest of that year I would visit the Seewald’s every so often and have the chance to interact with all of the Duggars and get to know Jinger a bit. However, it was not until months later that I began praying about the possibility of pursuing a relationship with her. I had known she was a godly young woman with outstanding character and a passion for sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ but we had never really interacted on more than a surface level. I remember watching her testimony video that she had made with Ben and thinking, “Wow. This girl is amazing.” I called Ben and Jess and began asking them more questions about her—of course, everything they said only confirmed what I had already been seeing: a humble, meek, modest, intelligent young woman with a burning desire to sacrificially serve the Lord in any way she could.
Soon after taking counsel both from Ben and Jess, my parents, and several other trusted godly people in my life, I planned a trip to visit Arkansas to visit the Seewalds. During that visit, Jinger and I had the opportunity to interact more than we had before and everything that I had seen earlier and was being said about her began to be confirmed more and more.
Soon after this visit, I joined the Duggars on a ministry trip to Central America where Jinger and I had the opportunity to serve the Lord together with the team. It was there that a mutual interest, though unbeknownst to one another, was really confirmed. On Thursday morning, December 11, 2015, I expressed my interest to get to know Jinger better to Mr. Duggar. This opened up the door for Mr. Duggar and me to build a friendship and began this great new chapter of my life with Jinger!
So who is Jeremy Vuolo? What’s his story? Jeremy was raised in Downingtown, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia, by his pastor father and his mother. He and his two older siblings were home schooled in “a faithful Christian home” before he would later attend Downingtown West High School. Jeremy has stated he decided to be a professional soccer player when he was 12 years old, and he excelled at the sport while at Downingtown West High School.
Jeremy continued to play soccer in college, where he was a goal keeper for Hartwick College in Oneonta, New York for his first three years. While a junior there, Jeremy “compiled a 10-4-4 record and a 0.84 goals against average with seven shutouts, earning him the 2009 All-Mid American Goalkeeper of the Year award as well as First Team All-MAC honors, as well as being named the team’s Most Valuable Player.” (SRC: The Philly Soccer Page)
After his very successful junior year, Jeremy Vuolo transferred to Syracuse University for his senior year.
After college, Jeremy headed off to Finland to play for AC Oulu, where he appeared in 24 games. His professional soccer career continued back in the United States as he would play for the New York Red Bulls before eventually leaving the sport behind to pursue the ministry full time.
Jeremy wrote a blog post about leaving the sport he had been so passionate about for so long titled “Dreams Change” in which he revealed that “soccer did not progress how I had foreseen, but it was clear that God was molding and nurturing me. I could go into great detail on the particulars but, for the sake of brevity, will simply say that God humbled me beyond what I thought possible.” He later added: “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.”
But, Jeremy’s “true calling” would once again take a backseat after Jeremy received another call two days later from an interested soccer team in San Antonio. From Jeremy’s blog entry “Neither are your ways My ways…”
On March 6 I posted an entry in my blog entitled “Dreams Change” in which I announced that I would be stepping away from professional soccer to pursue full-time ministry. I was at peace with my decision and excited about the many possibilities for ministry ahead of me. So, when a team in San Antonio contacted me two days later wanting to bring me into preseason for a week of training, I was disinterested. However, I decided to take counsel on the matter and called my friend and former Red Bulls teammate Luis Robles. Having been in a similar situation just nine months earlier, Luis wondered whether my lack of passion for soccer was driven by the discouragements of the past year. He advised me not to disregard the opportunity but to seriously consider flying down to Texas for the week. Recounting his own experiences, he did not want me to be too hasty in stepping away from the game. Having been contacted on Friday, I spent time over the weekend praying and seeking counsel from several different people. The advice from each person was the same:
“What is one more week? Go to Texas and see if the Lord wants you to continue playing soccer. If He doesn’t, it will be very clear and you will have closure. If He does, then He will renew your passion for the game.”
The result? “Just ten days after announcing my decision to step away from the game, I was offered a contract to play for the San Antonio Scorpions,” Jeremy wrote. “The next day, having agreed to terms with the club, I signed.”
After signing, Jeremy returned to New York to get his car — and the soccer versus God battle began to rage once again:
During my time in New York, and the several months following, God began revealing, while simultaneously crushing, pride hidden in my heart. It was a time of reshaping my identity from that of a professional athlete to a servant of Christ. In Romans 12:1, Paul calls Christians to “present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God,” as our worship to Him. What does this look like? Well, for me, it meant placing soccer on the altar, not just “willing” to give it up but actually giving it up. In many ways I had allowed myself to become defined by my career and so, it was in His mercy and grace, that God let me know very clearly how He wanted to be praised in my life: He did not only want my time, nor did He only want my money, words, or energy—He wanted my identity.
After months of praying, waiting, taking counsel, and seeking His will concerning soccer and ministry, I had come to the conclusion to step away from the game. I announced it in my blog and spread the word—I was no longer a professional soccer player. It was then, after placing my career on the altar, that God graciously returned it to me and, along with it, a renewed strength and passion. However, my desire for ministry has not subsided in the least; in fact, it has continued to grow. Under the ministry and teaching of Pastor Tim Conway, in whose home I have been given the remarkable privilege to live, and the fellowship of Grace Community Church, I am eager to see how God will use the next months in preparing me for fulltime ministry.
That blog post was published in March of 2013, and apparently soccer and God would once again enter Jeremy’s priorities Thunderdome because he DID wind up playing for the Scorpions during the 2013 season. According to Cuse.com, Jeremy “appeared in 14 games with 13 starts and established himself as a fan favorite after coming off the bench to preserve a 2-0 shutout of Minnesota United FC on June 1 at Toyota Field.”
After the 2013 season, Jeremy went on a three-week mission trip with six others to the Philippines after the region was devastated by a hurricane. The goal for the missionaries was “to share the gospel of the love of Christ, and to provide aid and relief, as they set up a medical relief station there, and do whatever they find to do.”
Jeremy would re-sign with the San Antonio Scorpions for the 2014 season. “I’m excited to be back,” he said at the time. “I’m very grateful to be back with the team and fighting for a championship.”
The 2014 season with the Scorpions looks like it was Jeremy’s actual last season as a pro soccer player, and since that time he has continued to pursue a post-soccer life in the ministry. The ordination service for Jeremy took place in Laredo, Texas on March 5, 2016 — you can watch the video here.
Jeremy’s friendship with Ben and Jessa Seewald is no secret, as they have posted entries by Jeremy on their website and his videos have been posted by Jessa as far back as June of 2015. Jeremy even appeared with Jim Bob Duggar in a video from April in which he wished Jason Duggar a happy 16th birthday:
“With us, we have Jeremy Vuolo,” Jim Bob says in the clip. “Jeremy was a professional soccer player, and he’s somebody that’s a pastor now in Laredo — loves the Lord. Jeremy, do you have any words for Jason here as he enters manhood?”
“Yeah,” says Jeremy as he claps his hand on Jason’s shoulder. He then reads a verse from Corinthians and adds, “My charge to you as a young man is keep your gaze fixed upon Christ, because if you look upon Jesus — your savior and your lord — and study him, and walk with him, and learn from him, read his word, pray to him daily; you’ll be transformed into the same image. You’ll begin reflecting the character of the Lord day to day.” He goes on to point out that Jason will face a lot of distractions as a young man, and he just iterates that he should keep his gaze on Christ. Jim Bob nods his agreement.
For those looking for a sample of Jeremy’s speaking skills, here he is talking with a group of young men at a Bible study group earlier this year about “Killing Sin: The Battle Against Sexual Lust:”
And here’s Jeremy preaching a sermon titled “Does God Desire All People To Be Saved?” based on 2 Peter 3:9:
Unfortunately, it appears as though Jeremy has made his blog private, so you won’t be able to read those entries. (With blog entries like “Counsel for Those Battling Sexual Lust” and “Porn and the Unborn,” I wonder if perhaps they were made private because of the controversy surrounding Josh Duggar?)
For those looking to get to know Jeremy Vuolo and follow his courtship with Jinger Duggar, you will get to do both soon as Counting On will be returning to TLC this fall! (I’ve noticed that TLC and People have dropped “Jill & Jessa” from the show title, which I assume will allow for it to expand and cover Jinger and the rest of the Duggars.) The Counting On renewal may come as a surprise to some after the show had some issues retaining advertisers and also struggled in the ratings.
So will you be tuning in to Counting On to follow Jinger’s courtship with Jeremy?