His parents, Mike (a regional sales manager for a fertilizer dealership) and Kim (an accountant with State Farm Insurance), raised their children as Catholics. They brought him and his older brother, Blaise, to church each and every Sunday, where both sons served as altar boys at Holy Trinity Church in Bloomington, Ill.
Chase made the United States Under-17 national team, before moving on to play for Clemson University, where he was a three-year starter, playing on the same defensive line as future U.S. senior national team fixture Oguchi Onyewu.
After graduating in 2004, Chase was undrafted by MLS after a decent college career. Claudio Aureas, the Chilean soccer coach at nearby Southern Wesleyan University, suggested going to Chile where he thought he could help Chase get a contract. Hilgenbrinck signed with Huachipato of Chile's top division, but was loaned out to lower division club Deportes Naval. He eventually moved on to second-division club Ñublense and helped them to achieve promotion to Chile's top flight. In all, he spent four seasons in Chile, with three different clubs, and grew to become a star player.
He joined Colorado Rapids in early 2008, but was waived during the pre-season without making a senior appearance after the Rapids needed to clear salary cap space for other acquisitions. Two weeks later the New England Revolution called, and after a two-day tryout, the Revolution signed him on March 28.
Hilgenbrick's last game was on a Sunday, July 13 2008, at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. Along with the England Revolution, they faced Mexican club Santos Laguna in a SuperLiga game.
In the summer of 2007, the vocation director for the Catholic Diocese of Peoria, Ill., sent him an extensive application packet. He had to write a 20-page autobiography and submit responses to a series of essay questions, in addition to a background check and fingerprinting. In December, the day after he returned to the U.S. following the end of the soccer season in Chile, he went through an entire battery of testing. He took five written exams in one day, and was evaluated by three different psychologists.
Hilgenbrinck retired from soccer on July 14, 2008 to enter the Catholic Mount St. Mary's Seminary of the Mount St. Mary's University in Emmitsburg, Maryland in order to become a priest.