Carr updates her years since grad, wife of NFL quarterback
Many FC alumni move on to bigger and better things, taking what they have learned from their years in high school and applying them to life in the real world. Very seldom do we discover that some of those alumni end up being in the spotlight. Former FC alumna Heather Carr graduated with the class of 2008, and went on to marry current NFL Oakland Raiders quarterback and former Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr.
During high school, Heather (Neal, ’08) Carr discovered her passion for cheerleading, hoping to pursue it in college. However at the time she attended Fresno State, the cheerleading program did not exist due to the absence of a cheer coach.
“Originally, I thought I would go to Azusa, they had a really good cheer squad, but then I think the whole dynamic of staying close to home really drew me in, and I wasn’t ready to leave, and God definitely knew I wasn’t ready to get out there and do things on my own, so I went to Fresno State,” Carr said. “Almost all of my cheer girls stayed in Fresno, and went to FPU, or Fresno State, and it was nice to know that they were there, so we could hang out and be with each other all the time. That really helped going to Fresno State.”
Carr majored in teaching, gaining her desire for teaching when she was in the fourth grade. Her inspiration for this was her mother, who was a fourth grade teacher, and who Carr would go watch intriguingly as she taught her students. Although she is still involved in spiritual mentoring, God led her on a different path from teaching when she met Derek.
Heather Carr worked at Hollister at the start of her freshman year at Fresno State and later went on to work at BJ’s, where she encountered the newly discovered football star.
“I met Derek my junior year, and I actually met him at my work,” Carr said. “It was his first year at Fresno State and after we met, we just started hanging out at school. He graduated high school early to come to Fresno State, so when I met him, he was on the team, but he didn’t start or anything he was just red shirting.”
After some time of dating and getting to know each other, Derek and Heather decided to take their relationship a step forward, marrying in 2012. Being married to a football player in college was a fun experience to Heather Carr.
“It was awesome to be married in college; I loved it. I think when you find that right person, it doesn’t matter how old you are,” Carr said. “Especially us, because we were both really mature for our age, and we were just ready to settle down. In college it was fun; we had class together. I think we made it that way, and so it made class really fun and interesting. But its always fun to have class with your spouse.”
In August of 2013, the Carr family added a new member: Dallas. Since Dallas was born at the beginning of football season, it made it difficult for Heather, being a married mom in college and Derek being away at practice, normally from 5-9 p.m.
“Derek knows exactly what he wants and what he needs to do, and he will get it done,” Heather said. “He took summer school before I even met him so that he could graduate, so he could just go play football. He had a plan, before he even got into college.
“Dallas was God’s plan, and according to Derek, he grew more chest hairs because with Dallas, he now had more responsibilities. So now he had a family, more responsibilities: Derek would even say in the games, ‘he would play harder knowing that he had to get into the NFL because he had a family, and he had to feed them.’ It does, it makes you work harder.”
All of the hard work and determination payed off in 2014, when Derek Carr was drafted to go play in the NFL for the Oakland Raiders. The lifestyle of Heather and Dallas Carr drastically changed with this new chapter in their lives.
You get to meet and interact with a lot of people. I am in a Bible study group with the other wives, and its awesome because you can share God’s love with people who don’t even have that. Because in the NFL, people have I guess, quote everything, so it’s awesome to be able to share what they don’t have, and that is Jesus. So that is definitely a pro of being a part of all this. It is just that you get to reach a lot of people with where you are at. –Heather (Neal) Carr, ’08, former FC cheerleader, wife of Derek Carr
“It’s different in the NFL,” Heather said. “There is literally no phone conversation, no texting the whole day. He is gone from 4:30 a.m., to about 6 p.m., and we don’t hear from him all day. Then, he would come home at 6 p.m., we would eat dinner, an then he would study the playbook and watch film, so we really don’t get to see him all that much.
“It is very different being an NFL wife compared to a college wife,” Heather continued. “Especially since Dallas is at an age now where he knows when daddy is gone, so its hard. I get tired cause he’s moving around and crawling on everything, so when Derek is home, it is nice to get a little break.”
Although the football season is tiring for Carr with Derek’s absence, the off season is a much needed reward for the family of three.
“We get a break around December, and then they start back again in April,” Heather said. “I love that we get an off season, because with some jobs, a lot of people don’t get that, and we get to spend time together as a family. Our biggest thing we love to do when we get our family time is just staying home, going to the park, playing soccer, anything that we can do with Dallas, just because we don’t get to stay home a lot.”
Being a NFL wife, Carr loves the new experiences she gets to encounter. Born from a strong Christian family, Carr loves the opportunity to share with the other NFL wives the light of the Lord, something that is very important to her, and the family as well.
“You get to meet and interact with a lot of people. I am in a Bible study group with the other wives, and its awesome because you can share God’s love with people who don’t even have that,” Heather said. “Because in the NFL, people have I guess, quote everything, so it’s awesome to be able to share what they don’t have, and that is Jesus. So that is definitely a pro of being a part of all this. It is just that you get to reach a lot of people with where you are at.”
Although there are many benefits of being a family member of an NFL player, there are also some hardships.
“You really don’t have a lot of time with your family. I know it is Dallas and I alone a lot during the season,” Carr said. “My parents have a condo up by where we live, so they are there almost every week, and it is really nice to have my mom watch him sometimes so I can go run some errands, or stuff like that. Just connecting with the girls (the wives), we have playdates with the kids, and things like that is fun. But that is definitely a con is that you really don’t get a lot of time with your husband.”
The Carr family had a bit of a scare in August of 2013, when their son Dallas was born with intestinal malrotation, which is a blockage of the digestive tract due to the twisting of intestines, that prevents the proper passage of food. They found the problem approximately six hours after he was born, and they rushed him to Valley Children’s Hospital when they noticed he wouldn’t eat, and he kept throwing up. There, Dallas had his first of may surgeries at only ten hours old.
“We were actually really blessed, because he was born eight days early, and if he was born on time, he might have not made it. So, that was definitely God’s blessing on us,” Carr said. “Although the fist surgery went well, he still wasn’t getting better. After 21 days, we finally got to go home, even thought he was still throwing up, but they told us it would correct itself over time. We took him in again a week later, where they admitted him and he had his third surgery. That was the toughest, just because I remember thinking, is this ever going to end?”
Throughout this difficult time, Carr really relied on the Lord, and He did not disappoint.
At this time, Derek was gone, because he was in football, so his trainer would call him off of the field, straight from practice, to let him know when Dallas was having another surgery,” Carr said. “So, it was really hard for both me and Derek. It was really hard for him to focus on football when his son was having surgery in the hospital.
“Before Dallas’ surgery, Derek wasn’t here yet, but I was praying with Dallas, asking God to show me a sign that this is going to end. Yes, this was his plan, and he was making us stronger through this, and we are trusting in you, and praising you, but I would love a sign just to know. Dallas was asleep at this time, out completely, and he sits up, looks at me, and winks, and then instantly falls right back asleep. Right then, I knew, we were done with this. It was the best feeling ever.”
All of the obstacles they went through made them realize that they could handle anything, and that God was doing this for his glory. It was humbling to the Carr family that they got to share God’s love and light through Dallas’s story.
Heather hopes to continue her love of teaching and help share Jesus’s light with many young adults, and in the mean time, will continue to enjoy time spent with her family, and living the life of the Raiders quarterback’s biggest fan.
This writer can be reached via twitter: @ashhasthescoop.
For more features, read the March 17 article, Annual auction raises over 135,000 for campus