From Student-Athlete to N.A.R.P.: Identity Theft

From Student-Athlete to N.A.R.P.: Identity Theft

For a lot of athletes, we tend to feel like the sports we play define us. Learn more about the journey in Part two of the "From Student-Athlete to N.A.R.P." series.

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So you're done playing... now what?

When you abruptly stop playing the sport you've played your whole life, something happens. I like to call this, Identity Theft.

This is something that many athletes, including myself, have experienced. Instead of waking up for conditioning at 6 am, you're waking up 15 minutes before class to get ready. You're no longer looking forward to or dreading practice (me) in the evening. Maybe you find that you're no longer "important" on campus. People aren't looking up to you anymore, and maybe you feel like you've just become a number. Some portion of your self-esteem has disappeared, you don't know where you belong anymore, and all of a sudden it's more difficult to make friends.

For some people, being an athlete is their main characteristic about themselves. Maybe even a personality trait, some may argue. Once you stop doing something you used to do everyday, a self-discovery journey is necessary. It's a journey that's for sure, and not a short one.

It's a marathon, not a sprint.

You may struggle to figure out who you are, all over again. It's comparable to recreating yourself. Some retired athletes will continue to thrive in their sport, even if they aren't playing for their school anymore. Some, like me, will go through the days, weeks, and months, not knowing what to do with themselves, or who they even are anymore (I didn't lift a weight or break a sweat for 6 months straight).

Before you know it, you begin to question yourself.

What am I good at? What am I passionate about now? Am I good at anything besides basketball?

These are the questions I asked myself every single day. Tearing my self-confidence down piece by piece because I didn't have the answers. I haven't always been the most social person, that being said, the friends I made were through sports. Teammates, opponents, fans- these were all friends I didn't need to work for. Not only that, I all of a sudden had all of this free time and had no idea what to do with it. Yeah, I could do homework, but that got boring after a while.

So what happens next? For me, it was depression.

Something that once defined you is no longer a part of your life anymore. The one thing that people thought about when they heard your name, is now nonexistent. The best way to describe life after being an athlete in my opinion is Identity Theft, because it almost feels like you've been robbed of a vital quality of yourself. And what's funny is I never thought it would be this way for me, because I never let basketball define me, yet there I was.

I'm here to say this:

Pick yourself up and remember who you are. Being great at that sport you once played was just one of the qualities of the stellar human being you are. You are more than your sport. You do have a purpose and a place in this world, even if you don't know it yet. This journey will be scary, but you'll discover new things about yourself that you didn't even know existed.

Since completing this self-discovery journey, I have learned that I am not as introverted as I thought I was, or at least used to be. I like art, music, and even writing. Never in a million years did I think I'd be writing articles that would be shown to the public. Helping people and learning about people is something I am now passionate about. I look back at my old self and sometimes can't recognize her because things are so different now, but I am grateful for those chapters in my life because they helped mold the person I am today.

I've learned the best life lessons from playing sports my whole life, and that is what should be taken from that whole experience. Very rarely do you end up playing your sport forever- everyone can't be a professional athlete.

Identity theft is a real issue that occurs in retired athletes. It is important that you, the athlete, understand what is going on, as well as the people around you.

This isn't the end of your life, it's truly just the beginning.

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Everything The Student Athlete Loses When They Move On From Sports

Enjoy it while it lasts.

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We used to call it "flipping the switch." You would go through eight hours of school (somehow) and then your mentality would automatically change. The worries and stress from the school day would dwindle as you put on your cleats and begin to warm up. Anything that was going on in your life didn't matter when you hit the dirt. You create lifelong friendships with the girls you spent every day with for months at a time. Teammates who see you susceptible after a bad game and on cloud nine after one of your bests.

You develop a routine and superstitions. Hitting your bat on the inside of your cleat before you hit, chewing a certain type of gum on the volleyball court, how many times you spin the ball before you shoot a free throw, whatever your quirk was, you 100% believed it would make you play better. You practice in your free time with your dad, devote three to five months of your school year to a team, and play all summer long with your travel team as you live off hotel breakfast. Then one day, it's all over.

It is a feeling that nobody can prepare you for. They say enjoy it while it lasts but you never really understand what you'll be walking away from when you play your last game and hang it up for good. You lose a part of yourself when you're no longer an athlete. I forgot what it feels like to be competitive and be a part of something that is bigger than myself. It has been two years since I've played my last softball game and not a day goes by when I don't miss it. I didn't play because I wanted to go pro or even to the collegiate level, but I played because it was an escape and helped me become who I am.

You begin to forget what it felt like to hit the sweet spot on a bat, what it sounded like to have an audience cheer for you as you stand alone on second base and see your family in the stands, to hear the metal spikes of your cleats on concrete when walking in the dugout. It's simple things about the game you love that brought you pure joy and an escape from the world and the thoughts in your head. Batting practice was always mine. Focusing on nothing but the next pitch and how hard I could hit it.

When you have to watch the game from the other side of the fence, you realize how much pressure you put on yourself when you played. It's just a game. Make as many memories as you can and enjoy every inning because when you leave sports behind you have to find your inner athlete in other things. Create a workout routine, joining a club sport or intramurals, or even becoming a coach. As much as I miss the sport, I am thankful for everything it brought me. It taught me how to be a good friend, respect others around me, and to push myself to discover what I was capable of.

So, enjoy it while it lasts.

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Giannis Antetokounmpo And Christian Yelich Have Put Milwaukee Back On The Map

Two small market teams making sure the world knows who they are

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"MVP" is currently being chanted around the city of Milwaukee and the people of Milwaukee aren't just talking about one person. Giannis Antetokounmpo, a forward for the Milwaukee Bucks and Christian Yelich, an outfielder for the Milwaukee Brewers. Giannis is on the path to winning this year's NBA MVP and Yelich, who happened to win the NL MVP last year, is showing no doubts on potentially becoming this year's MVP as well.

Both the Bucks and the Brewers have struggled in the past few years. The Bucks finished their 2013-2014 season with a record of 15-67. On top of that, they have been playing in the BMO Harris Bradley Center for the past couple of decades. The Bradley Center was intentionally built for hockey and not basketball so attending games for the Bucks sometimes had you in the nosebleeds barely seeing what was going on on the court. The Bucks struggled after their 2013-2014 season with records of 41-41 (2014-2015) and 33-49 (2015-2016). Now, the Bucks have recently finished their regular season and moved to the playoffs. From 15-67 just five years ago, to now 60-22 which gave them the best record in the NBA, the number one seed in the East and home-court advantage, Giannis has proved himself as potentially one of the greatest players the NBA and the Bucks franchise will ever see.

The Bucks now have a new arena that opened this season, Fiserv Forum, which is built specifically for the Bucks (and Marquette) instead of hockey. Looking back on the Bucks in their previous years compared to now, the Bucks have sold out every single game this season. Something Milwaukee never thought they would see from being a small market team. From my experience, while working for the Bucks, you can see the difference in the crowd and feel their enthusiasm and excitement radiating off of the fans. And this is all thanks to Mr. Antetokounmpo who is making his mark here in Milwaukee. Giannis has won Eastern Conference Player of the Month for October/November, December, February and March/April and even earned his spot as Eastern Conference captain for the All-Star game this year. Giannis may be considered in his prime right now, but he is only 24-years-old which means he has plenty of time to only make himself better.

The Brewers had won the NL Central Divison back in 2011 but lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Championship Series. After that, they struggled a bit and haven't won the title since until last year in 2018. He brought the Brewers to the NLCS last season, but unfortunately, they lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Yelich had 36 home runs last season and already has eight (as of 4/16/19) this season. He happens to be a great right fielder as well. In last night's (4/15/19) game against the Cardinals, Yelich alone scored three home runs.

Miller Park has been filling up more and more each game of Brewers fans. Being a small market team like their cross-city friends, the Bucks, bringing home an MVP title as well as a division title, it makes everyone aware of their greatness and dedication. The season may have just started back up again, but there is no doubt, if Yelich and his teammates keep playing like they are right now, they will have another shot of making it to the World Series.

Giannis Antetokounmpo and Christian Yelich have brought and will continue to bring excitement and greatness to Milwaukee which is something the city hasn't seen in a while. This era of sports will surely be remembered for a long time by the people of Milwaukee and Wisconsin.

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