Moving Forward: Life After College Athletics

It took me about a week to realize my soccer career was over forever. I wasn’t happy about how my last game ended, but there really wasn’t anything that could be done about it. In my 21 years on this Earth, I’ve never had such a bittersweet feeling.

The first Monday of my retirement was a real wake up call of what the future would be like. I didn’t have to wake up early for 6am workouts. I didn’t have to worry about eating the right things to fuel my body for practice. I didn’t have to worry about tutoring at 5pm and making it to training table immediately after to eat the sub-par food. It was a weight lifted off my shoulders.

I hate calling my sport a burden because it’s been an outlet for so many years and has taught me things a life without it can’t. However, I was no longer stressing over it. I no longer had to consume my mind with thoughts of everything soccer-related. While this was nice, it was hard for me to fill such a large void — my day literally revolved around soccer. The one thing I could get used to very quickly was not stressing over the sport anymore.

What exactly did I do with my first day of freedom?

I binge-watched the whole season of How to Get Away with Murder. Before I knew it, I skipped my class and missed lunch — I never miss a meal — and it was 8pm. The best part? I walked out of my room and ran into my roommate, who had just done the same exact thing.

We both got a lot accomplished.

Is this what life after athletics was like? Being absolutely unproductive? Honestly, it was a little sad and pathetic. I loved having a constant agenda and waking up before the sun rose. There was a sense of pride in having all my errands done before most people got up out of bed. It was nice accomplishing a lot in one day.

All it took was that one lazy Monday to realize the lessons I learned from my soccer career immediately had to be applied to real life. There was no way I could just sit around and not get anything done. I believe every athlete takes some time to be “worthless” and unproductive before getting back to the grind. But this time, it’s a different kind of grind.

Fighting for a treadmill at the gym is the bane of my existence, so I wake up early. Doing so makes it easier to get my errands accomplished while everything is less busy and crowded. I go to class, but not because coach said to. If I don’t, I’ll just lie around all day otherwise. There’s finally time to plan dinner, and right before I go to bed each night, I make a to-do list for the next day.

This is my way of filling the void. Simply put, not having something that I once cherished and revolved my life around sucks. With time, every athlete in this same situation finds a way to fill the void and find a new way to go about things on a daily basis.

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*Section Photo credit to Jed Jacobsohn, Getty Images; Featured Photo (above) credit to USA Today Sports