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Life After Sports: The Transition From the "Playing Field"​ to the "Real World"​

Updated: Jan 21, 2019

Whether you played in high school, college, or professionally, you know the day eventually comes when it's time to hang up the jersey. Every former athlete goes through withdrawals at some point after their career ends. In my case, it took moving back home into my childhood bedroom before I realized I would never play the game I love again. 

Life for retired athletes can be tough. Many of us are still searching for a path in life where our talents can shine like they once did on the game day. It can be extremely challenging to redefine your identity outside of the arena, especially when being an athlete is what everyone has come to know and love you for.

When I graduated from college I went into a deep depression. I had never fully developed a clear vision for my life after football. In the midst of my anger, I blamed the university for not truly preparing me to succeed in the "real world". 

Even with the best of intentions, most schools find it difficult to ensure a smooth transition for graduating student-athletes. Resources are limited, and athletic departments are primarily focused on the upcoming season. 

I felt that the degree I had just finished earning with my blood, sweat, and tears was completely useless. I had no work experience, and couldn’t get a “real job” for almost a year after graduation. When I finally landed my first gig, I was miserable. 

I knew that I wanted to make “a ton of money” and be “successful”, but I had no idea what kind of career I wanted. There was constant chatter in my head."What career would truly inspire me? Do I really want to work for someone else? Maybe I should start my own business? How do I even do that? Should I go back to school for an MBA? How much money do I really need to be happy?" I had no answers, and no one to turn to.

After several years of stumbling around in the dark, I experienced a massive breakthrough. I realized that I could either continue to play the victim, or I could become the hero in my own journey.

My career in athletics had equipped me with the discipline, resilience, and drive to succeed in anything I set my mind to. Slowly, but surely it became clear to me that I could use my abilities to create a life I loved, while impacting the lives of others. 

If you're struggling to figure out your next move in life, dig deep and ask yourself, "What inspires me? What do I really want out of life?" and most importantly, "How can my talents and abilities best contribute to my fellow man?" 

On your path of discovery, be sure to seek out people who are willing to guide you on your journey, and spend every waking moment creating the life you deserve!

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