Life after the Game
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Life after the Game

What You Won't Realize Until the Final Whistle Blows

Life after the Game
Karen Redinger

When you grow up playing sports, the fields, stadiums and courts become a second home to you. The hours that you pour your blood, sweat and tears into during practice makes every second during the game worth it. All for your love of the game. The game is second nature to you. When you step onto the court, everything becomes at peace inside of you. That is where you are meant to be. But what happens when the game is over and when the years that you have dedicated your life to finally come to an end? From my 15 years of experience, I am still trying to figure out the answer to that question but these are some answers I have discovered so far.

The transition between your last game and whatever is next in line in your life is probably one of the strangest experiences. Instead of going to practice five times or more a week, you can spend time with other people. Form new relationships with people that you didn’t have time to invest in. You can focus more on your new future at school. You realize that you have time. It’s an abstract idea when your schedule has been managed to fit everything around practices, games, and tournaments. You might also come to a personal realization that you feel like you don’t have a purpose anymore. Being an athlete is who you are, but you aren’t playing anymore so now what?

When and if you come to that realization, know that your teammates and best friends are going through the same thing. Take comfort in that. Lean on them for support and together you’ll get through this transition. No matter what, your teammates will be there for you on and off the court. The friendships you make while playing the game you love are ones that will never fade.

Finding your new identity is the second phase that takes over once you walk away from the sport you love. When a sport is truly who you are, it becomes your identity. You are automatically identified as the athlete that has lived and breathed this sport your entire life. How do you start over when that is all that you’ve known? You find new hobbies, find new passions, and you try new things that you normally wouldn’t consider. You find things that fulfill the hunger of competition, and companionship. You absorb new information. You take interest in things that have always been compelling to you, but could never devote enough time to them when you were still playing your sport. One of these things will click with you. It’ll give you the closest feeling to what you experienced on the court. That is your new identifier.

The feeling of being lost does not last forever. Eventually, everything falls into place when the timing is right for you. Keep searching for something that gave you the same feeling you felt when you were playing your game, don’t lose hope. The memories that you made will always be with you, the feeling that you had when you enter a stadium will always return.

This chapter may be coming to a close but it’ll only lead to discovering a new side of yourself.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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