Game Plan Champion
Post 2: Life After Sport
Disclaimer: I have voiced some of these thoughts before but they seem relevant/ necessary to repeat for the purpose of this post.
For many people, their careers are part of their identities- they work hard, get an education or training, and prioritize work- with eyes on making money, getting a raise, or making a difference, with long term, life-long goals in mind. For athletes however, their “careers” are always on a shorter time-line. We know that our 20’s are when we will reach peak performance in the sporting world. But after this athletic career is over-then what? We put in the hours and years of training for something that we know is short lived. We gladly, and willingly sacrifice everything else. However, after athletic careers have ended, athletes are forced to find alternate careers in order to make a living.
For high performance athletes, their teammates and experiences, and the passion they have for the sport will remain but they will be forced to make this transition out. This forced retirement is maybe due to injuries, finances, or maybe due to the realization that they are unable to get to the level or maintain the level of performance needed to be successful. However, many athletes do not realistically think about life after sport, or who they are without the sport prior to their retirement. Their “master status” is that of an athlete. Therefore, transitioning out of sport is tremendously difficult.
In the sporting world, life after sport is rarely talked about. It is an important topic that is commonly ignored. The time that the athlete “retires” is too late to start this conversation. I believe that encouraging athletes to plan and think about life after sport is necessary for the well-being of all high performance athletes. Sure, all athletes know their athletic careers are relatively short, but vocalizing this fact and explaining the difficulties some athletes face after sport, will have athletes thinking about the seriousness and importance of planning for that point in their lives.
For me, planning for my life after sport has largely involved getting an education. I have been able to get an undergraduate degree, masters degree and am currently pursing a law degree. These educational pursuits have been pursed concurrently with my wrestling pursuits. Through the years as a student-athlete I have been able to excel in both my athletics and academics. These two worlds have complimented each other, challenging different parts of myself. I love wrestling and I love learning. For me, it is a privilege every day to go to school and a privilege every time I get to wrestle.
I am pursuing a law degree so that when I finish my wrestling career, I will be able to transition into a legal career. I believe that as a lawyer, I will be able to wake up every day excited for the challenge, the opportunity to learn and better myself and those around me, and the opportunity to use my platform and privilege to help others.
I encourage all athletes, who are considering getting an education to do so. The education experience can be individualized and may look different to each person. However, if you time-manage effectively, are mindful, and work hard, you can be world-class in both realms. You don't have to choose. You don't have to wait.
NOTE: The Canadian Olympic Committee, the Canadian Paralympic Committee, Sport Canada and the Canadian Sport Institute Network together launched the Game Plan Program, a transition program to provide support to Canadian athletes in life and sport. Game Plan is an essential program. It assists athletes with their network, education, career, skill development, & health. However, not very many athletes are aware of these services (I did not know about the programs or services offered to me until quite recently). If you are a national team athlete or have recently retired- SIGN UP FOR THIS PROGRAM. It will help you plan for life after sport.