Updated: Jun 26, 2021
Steve Hoyem's life was spiraling out of control
until God gave him the courage to turn his life around
and now he devotes his life to giving others hope
Young people who dream of someday achieving a career in the NFL might imagine that it would feel like the pinnacle of success. But that’s not how Steve Hoyem saw it. Becoming an offensive lineman with the Buffalo Bills was not enough to quell the insecurities he developed in childhood – insecurities that dogged him well into adulthood.
He was raised in a family that moved frequently from one community to another, with a change of schools for him each time. “I learned throughout those years that you just have to put a mask on and keep trying to be whoever you have to be to fit in with different groups of people,” he recalls. “I’d learn to be a super jock to fit in with the jocks, but then I’d meet a group of people who didn’t play sports and I would downplay my interest in football to seem interested in whatever they most cared about.”
Even though he didn’t always want to share his interest in sports with his friends, Steve says that playing on teams kept him grounded as a child. Yet in high school, when for so many young men, sports is a ticket to popularity, Steve found himself once again downplaying his athletic abilities. “I was able to earn good grades in school because I would hang out with the good students. And then when I wanted to prove myself athletically, I would hang out with the jocks. I felt like I had to constantly switch personalities.”
The sense of distortion began taking its toll early on, Steve says. By making himself an easy target for peer pressure, he developed a drinking problem while he was still in high school.
“In groups, I was always uncomfortable being myself and always seeking a level of comfort. If I was at a party, I’d find myself drinking too much, which gave me a sense of courage. That was really the difficulty for me in high school.”
Looking back with the perspective of an adult and a father to two daughters and a son, Steve realizes now how fortunate he was to avoid the potential consequences of his poor judgment. “I had friends who were in drunk driving accidents and a teammate who was arrested for driving while intoxicated,” he says. “Fortunately for all of us, I don’t remember anything worse than that happening. But overall, the behavior of myself and my friends was just not what should be expected of a high school football player, or any high school student at all.”
Steve’s personal problems followed him to Stanford, where he played football well but continued drinking too much and focusing too little on school. After graduating, Steve was signed as a free-agent by the Buffalo Bills and made the active roster. Even the rigors of the NFL couldn’t ease his substance abuse problem. It was taking its toll physically and limiting his abilities on the football field.
An injury ended his career with the NFL after just two short seasons. A successful career with a Silicon Valley technology company followed; yet it was during this time that he reached rock bottom with his self-image. “I was tremendously overweight and was experiencing problems with my liver and with my heart. I had two beautiful young daughters and a wife, but it seemed as if all the shame and fears I’d been carrying with me for all those years came together and I started to crumble.”
Steve realized that after years of hearing friends and family members suggest that he cut back on his drinking, he was finally ready to do so. But it was nearly impossible to muster the willpower. At the verge of suicide, a thought crept into his head telling him that he did not want to die. He is convinced now that it was the voice of God, though not the voice of God he had ever imagined. “I had always had this vision of God with a booming voice, but this was more like a gentle, loving voice telling me that I needed to live. I really felt it was the voice of love. It gave me a feeling of hope and purpose.”
A lot changed for Steve after that. He and his former Buffalo Bills teammate, Corey Louchiey, founded First & Life, through which they offer personal coaching services and motivational speaking appearances. They also do a radio show together that mingles sports and inspiration. Steve became a certified life coach with the Coaches Training Institute (CTI) and the International Coaching Federation (ICF).
Most important to his current life, though, is the spiritual awakening that has allowed him to give up alcohol. “I wish I had an easy way to tell everyone who is suffering that this is what worked for me; I want to give them the recipe for success,” he says. “But I had to come to that point on my own, and other people do too. I had to go through my own trial and error, and now I have to keep constantly seeking and listening rather than thinking I know exactly what the answers are. God appears to me every day if I’m willing and able to receive God’s presence.”
Finding the strength from within and from a higher power gave Steve Hoyem the courage to turn his life around, demonstrating the values of an Insightful Player® team member.
Instant replay of Steve’s guiding principles:
1. Take time to find out who you are, and then do whatever you can to learn to understand and love that person.
2. Seek a higher power. Whether you follow the religion of your childhood or develop your own unique sense of spirituality, stay open to the possibility of a higher power offering you guidance along your journey.
3. Be grateful for all you have. Consciously practice gratitude, recognizing your blessings and expressing your appreciation to your higher power.
4. Accept yourself and accept others. Know your own limitations and insecurities and accept them for what they are; give other people the same compassion and understanding when it comes to their limitations.
5. Realize your full potential as a human being. Be mindful of all you can do and accomplish, and then make it a priority to follow through on those possibilities. 6. Recognize the consequences of your actions. Avoid doing things you know are not in your best interest, so as to avoid the further ramifications of those actions.
7. Understand that no matter how alone you feel, you are not alone. No matter what you are going through, help is available if you are just willing to ask for it. Asking for help can be the most powerful thing you can do to change your situation.
8. See each day as a new opportunity for growth.
9. Practice forgiving yourself and others. When we find it difficult to forgive others, let that be a reminder of our need to be forgiven and to only expect that forgiveness “…as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
10. The quality of your life is equal to the quality of your relationships. Place the key people in your life in the center of your heart.
The Insightful Player® series is brought to you by Coach Chrissy Carew, Hall of Fame Master Certified and Board Certified Personal and Business Coach and Author of INSIGHTFUL PLAYER: Football Pros Lead A Bold Movement of Hope. Chrissy has been deeply inspired by her father, the late Coach Walter Carew, Sr. Her father is in several Halls of Fame as a high school football coach and baseball coach (as well as high school and college athlete). He used sports to help kids build strong character and teach them valuable life skills. Insightful Player® was created to support youth to become caring leaders now. This will put them on the path to take humanity to heights that we can't imagine. To contact Chrissy Carew visit http://www.insightfulplayer.com or call her landline 603-897-0610.
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