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What Happens After Your Final Buzzer?

Elsa / Staff

The buzzer has rung, the clock finally hits 00:00, and just like that you’re college career as an athlete is now over.

If you were fortunate enough to play at the collegiate level, then 9 chances out of 10, "ball is life" has been applicable to your lifestyle thus far.

Whether your choice of sport involved a physical ball or not, the saying indicates that your life has revolved around your sport. It’s your crutch, identity, fantasy, obsession, and passion.

Due to physical specimens identified by the common eye, you will always be associated as an athlete. Whether you have broad shoulders from swimming laps as a member of the swim team, gangly tall and was a member of the volleyball team or basketball team, or walk on your toes from years as training like an Olympian as a member of the track team.

Your playing days are over, but you are identified as an athlete everywhere you go, which comes with pros and cons. Sure, people will interact with you when they need a spare for company kickball, need the vending machine shook, or need a new member to join their fantasy league. There is also the other side in which co-workers only discuss sports with you, introduce you as a former athlete (ignoring your educational accolades), and not to mention the physical ailments that go along with the years of wear and tear on your body.

Just because you were an athlete doesn’t mean your post-sports life should be consumed with your athletic accomplishments or reliving your glory days. However, there are elements from the sports world that you should carry over to life after sports.

Sports primarily revolve around the following 3 components:

  • Competition
  • Dedication
  • Repetition

You will need that competitive drive to thrive. It may not be the adrenaline, expletive filled, chest thumping demonstrative actions that get you hyped for a game, but it will be in another form. The sense of pride to show the world you are more than an athlete and can go beyond the game should be fuel enough.

You will need to dedicate effort, energy, and time to learning how to transition successfully from athlete to professional. Just as you picked up new defensive schemes, picked up a new move for the court/field, or added a new exercise to your workout routine – it won’t come easy. It will take dedication to being successful in your new “life”. Creating a network outside of teammates, finding your new passion and stepping outside the box to try new things will help rev up the process.

After that final horn sounds off, you will need to develop a routine that will fit your lifestyle and allow you to grow.

The saying, “practice makes perfect” was drilled into my head for as long as I can remember. But the actual saying should be “perfect practice makes perfect”. Practicing bad habits (sleeping in, still subscribing only to sports culture, not reading) repeatedly will not make you perfect in a sense. After that final horn sounds off, you will need to develop a routine that will fit your lifestyle and allow you to grow. Creating a routine (repetition) can lead to being productive and efficient. Setting aside time to read, exercise, meditate work on your craft/find your niche will allow you to gain that sense of comfort you had once as a player (practice, film, and weight-training).

The buzzer to your sports life has ended, but that isn’t your sole existence.

The buzzer to your sports life has ended, but that isn’t your sole existence. When one door closes, another door opens. How you succeed after sports will be determined by your ability to apply those forces that made you an elite athlete just in a different manner.


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Layden Williams is a former collegiate basketball player at Catawba College. After his playing days were over, Layden earned his MBA and currently resides in Charlotte, NC where he is an up-and-coming author and compliance professional in the banking industry.