Persistence Pays Off: Trent Kirchner '00 Trent Kirchner '00 attended school in Fulda, a town of 1,300 in southwestern Minnesota three hours from Collegeville and a million miles from the NFL. By the time Kirchner arrived in Collegeville, he was set on having a life in sports. Although he researched sports agents and spent a summer working with the Twins, Kirchner focused on football, his first love. With no connections, Kirchner embarked on a massive letter-writing campaign, the type people usually do when trying to stop wars or save TV programs. He mailed letters to everyone: scouts, general managers, coaches. He asked for advice and insight. He asked how they earned their positions. “But I never asked for a job,” Kirchner says. “I knew the second I did that, they’d throw it away.” Some wrote back, most didn’t. Kirchner savored any information he received and saved all the responses, even the ones offering no help at all. By his senior year, Kirchner needed a bold move. He set his sights on the NFL Scouting Combine, which takes place each February in Indianapolis. Coaches and executives attend the event, making it fertile ground for an aspiring employee. Kirchner skipped his Friday class and drove south, even though he didn’t have a pass and didn’t really know anyone. On the drive down, he picked up team media guides, enabling him to match faces to the names on his letters. The Combine takes place in a dome and only authorized personnel are allowed on the field. But the bathrooms sat outside the secure area, so Kirchner approached the NFL people as they walked to the restroom and told them his story. He didn’t get far. Kirchner’s most substantial conversations occurred with a security guard. But on his second day, Kirchner spoke with Arizona offensive coordinator Marc Trestman and found a receptive audience. Trestman told Kirchner, “Hold on, hold on. You mean to tell me you drove down from Minnesota just to talk to people? That’s so awesome.” Trestman’s quarterbacks coach didn’t arrive until the next day, so he told Kirchner to go to his hotel for the coach’s security badge. Kirchner breezed through the security line, passing the guard he’d become friendly with. “I held up the badge, and he just winked at me and said, ‘Man, I’m so happy for you. Congratulations.’” Kirchner was inside—the dome and the league. It was then that he introduced himself to John Schneider, who also admired Kirchner’s tenacity. After helping Schneider and the Kansas City Chiefs at the Combine, Kirchner returned to school, graduated and accepted an internship with Seattle. After serving as the college scouting coordinator for the Washington Redskins, Kirchner worked as a pro scout for Carolina from 2002 until early 2010. That’s when Schneider hired Kirchner for Seattle. Kirchner—whose wife, Jessica, joined him in Seattle from Carolina at the end of the year—travels about every other week during the season, scouting opponents and potential free agents. He often arrives at the office by 6:30 a.m. and stays until 9 at night, breaking down hundreds of hours of tape. It’s a long way from Fulda and Collegeville. Today Kirchner receives letters from students, and he’s now the one handing out advice. They can follow in his footsteps. All they need is talent, a little creativity and a lot of persistence. A borrowed security badge wouldn’t hurt, either. Trent Kirchner ’00 serves as assistant director of pro personnel for the Seattle Seahawks.
Published on Jun 13, 2011
Saint John's is published in the fall and winter and CSB/SJU Magazine is published with the College of Saint Benedict in the spring.