There comes a time in every athlete’s career when they must say goodbye to their sport. For many, athletics is first introduced as a stress reliever or a hobby. Today millions of children across the world use sports as a way to have fun and become more talented.
This transitional period is foreign to me. Throughout my life I have prioritized football; it was the only thing that mattered. I honestly thought I would never lose it.
I began playing football at the age of 11, following the path that my older brother had started. He played many sports in school and wanted me to do the same. He registered me for youth football, and it would be one of the moments that completely changed my life.
For the next 10 years, football became my whole world. My schedule revolved around it, and it was the only thing at which I excelled. Like many other children in the world, my dream was to play in the NFL. To make that dream come true, I learned to handle the responsibilities of being a student-athlete.
Throughout my athletics career, I’ve faced many challenges and learned valuable lessons. As I was learning on the field, I noticed I was able to apply those characteristics to everyday life; working with teammates, being a leader, and demonstrating discipline are just a few of the lessons I learned through playing sports.
Now my biggest adjustment is planning. Without football, I have a lot of time on my hands despite having a part-time job. I need to find ways to fill that void successfully. My journey wasn’t easy; it had its highs and lows. The pain of saying goodbye to football still hurts though it’s been three months since I last put on a helmet. Even though I am still adjusting, it humbles me to know that I am not the only one in this transitional period. There will continue to be many like me who have a difficult time moving on from athletics, and it is okay to grieve.
My advice for athletes who face the change that I did is to love every single second of your playing time. My 10 years of football were a significant amount of my 21 years of life, and they went by quickly.
Life isn’t over. I continue to grieve, but I know that the lessons I learned through sports will count in my future. Currently I am the co-editor-in-chief of The Villager, and I am finding a passion in sports journalism. Passions can be found every day for those who don’t limit themselves.