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Your Athletes Are Transitioning From Athletics. Now What?

Graduation and/or end of eligibility is a significant time in a student-athlete’s experience, one that blends their past, present, and future into a definitive transition.

It is one of the most exciting, yet vulnerable, moments in their journey.

All at once they are faced with intense athlete identity reflection, moving on from a place, time, and circle that helped them grow personally, and the inevitable choice to continue their education or make the leap to the workforce.

Ideally, they are prepared for this transition.

In reality, not all student-athletes started from the same place, therefore, they will not transition from the same place simply because they may not have been ready for support at the time it was presented.

Preparedness doesn't fit in a neat 2 to 4-year box, and that is absolutely okay.

Preparedness has everything to do with the many layers, experiences, and history of one’s life.

Graduation time is a great reminder to do all we can to uniquely support these young graduates and others navigating this transition.

It also brings a consciousness to the many types of transitions that are taking place.

Consider the following populations as you determine your outreach:

  • Those who are graduating and completing eligibility at the same time
  • Individuals who are graduating but have eligibility remaining
  • Individuals who are not graduating but have exhausted eligibility
  • Medically disqualified student-athletes
  • Those who may leave early for the pros or even transfers
  • Those who can easily slip through the system and not be seen for the challenges they may endure

The most effective ways to support at this time are to ensure continuity in communication, connectedness, and an open door.

Let’s look at each phase - past, present, and future - and a few mindful strategies to consider in each.

PAST

  • Wrap up their culminating experience. Find a way to put a bow on the past so they can focus on the future. Senior celebrations serve this purpose for some, but not all.
  • Communicate how and where they will be remembered. To know that they left a mark almost gives them permission to put a stake in the ground and start building on the next.
  • Plant the seed that they will be encouraged to support their teammates who remain on the team and those who come after them, just as others did for them.

PRESENT

  • Hit home the long-lasting value of building their network. No better place than to do that with those who have shared in their journey. The cool thing about their Athlete Network is that they likely can find someone else with similar interests or experiences.
  • Be present. Be available. Be REAL. Consider having staff members, especially those who are former athletes, send messages and make connections during this time. It has been proven time and time again that the more caring adults we have in our lives, the more likely we will lead a happy life.
  • Define and communicate what it means to stay connected. If they have a clear picture of what that looks like before they leave, they will be more likely to repeat those behaviors. What are three things you can put on their radar before they leave?

FUTURE

  • Encourage your student-athletes to join your Athlete Network. That is where they can proactively create the alumni experience they desire, not just the one that is communicated to them.
  • Soon after their transition, host an event that meets them where they are. Consider a six-months out video call check-in for the entire class across all sports. At minimum make sure they have an event or date in which to look forward. Having a carrot in front of them will ease some of the emotional toll.
  • One year post transition, send a communication from their coach, mentor, advisor, or even AD to check in and get updates on their lives. A phone call goes a long way as well.

The UNITE software powered by Athlete Network can help provide a constant in the uncertainties of this transition. Our software helps schools reach more student-athletes WHERE they are and, more importantly, WHEN they are ready.

This additional support to grow their personal networkremain connected to a transformation time in their lives and find jobs will leave a lasting impressiondrive affinity to your school, and help create a culture of giving back when it is their turn to do so. That’s what family does.

#keepcompeting

 

Visit www.athletenetwork.com/colleges-universities or schedule a free overview to see how you can unleash the power of your athlete network.