Even though I graduated from college before some of you were even born, this stuff is still as fresh as the morning rain. I wouldn’t change a thing, but trust me if you were a collegiate athlete, you know that the struggle is entirely real.
1.Good Enough Doesn’t Cut It – You cannot get through a day without trying to do at least one thing perfect. I mean perfect, perfect. Not slightly perfect. Not kinda perfect. NO MISTAKES, perfect. Giving less than 115% is ridiculously hard, instinct kicks in and before you know it you’re full-on invested for no reason. I can no longer get myself anywhere near 100% physically but I have found ways to transfer that energy somewhere else. Dishwasher beware. Folding a t-shirt three times to get all the wrinkles out and formed into a perfect rectangle – done that. A vacuum attachment that can get the bug parts out from between the window pane and window screen was made for people like us. All the grocery bags from the car to the house, in one trip.
Pro tip: Choose your battles. No time to be perfect.
2. Paying For Shoes is Hard – It took me more than a year to buy a pair of athletic shoes after I graduated from college. Do you know how much shoes cost? I didn’t for a very long time and it still hurts to shell out the dough for athletic footwear that used to be free! Remember the first day you reported for camp? The big ol’ free bag of athletic apparel, shoes for playing, shoes for running, track suits, jackets, t-shirts, water bottles, knee pads, ankle braces (or any other sport specific gear)? All you had to do was pay for that in sweat, tears and a little blood. Not a problem. Paying actual dollars for athletic shoes? Now that’s just painful.
Pro tip: Volunteer for events that give you shoes for free.
3. Pining for the Training Room (It’s a thing) – If I could start every single day with an hour plus in the training room, life would be so, so, so good. Taped, massaged, heated, stemmed, stretched and ultra sounded to begin my day. Then wrapped with all the ice bags, filled with all the ibuprofen and perhaps an ice bath every now and again to shut it all down at the end of a long day. Pure heaven. It’s not that I can’t do most of this at home, I can, but the training room was one part PT and four parts social hour. I have found no comparison in my adult life. It is such good stuff.
Pro tip: Find a CrossFit gym and spend most of your time stretching and talking. Samesies.
4. You Still Need a Coach – Some days I have no idea where I need to be, how I’m going to get there and why I’m not surrounded by ten other people all the time. I used to think I was so organized. Turns out, I just had good coaches and good teammates. Organizing my own life without a coach and a team is so hard at times. Anyone who knows me knows exactly what I’m talking about. Wait. What are we doing today?
Pro tip: Wait. What are we doing right now?
5. Making Games Out of Everything – the desire to compete never fully goes away. But because I’m not actually a competitive athlete these days, I do need an outlet. I’m not ashamed to admit that my husband and I have gone to Chuck E. Cheese on date night just to compete at the football game without having to attend to any children. Sure we look weird being there without children and, yeah, there’s a little friendly banter but those kids waiting in line are going to have to keep waiting because I JUST HIT PRO-BOWL STATUS AND LAPPED THE TOP SCORE BY 800 POINTS. BAM! SUCKAS!
Pro tip: Do not take this out on your kids. It’s not their fault.
6. You Miss the Fans (and the applause) – Let’s face it, now that you live in real life – nobody cares. I mean, you really aren’t doing anything remarkable and so what if you used to do cool stuff, your kids and your coworkers are only concerned about what you can do for them today…like, right now. Plus, nobody is clapping or saying “great job.” This week I got my kids to school, hit a writing deadline, got cleared to back squat, nursed a sick kiddo and loaded/unloaded the dishwasher a handful of times (it’s only Tuesday). Guess what? Crickets. I miss the fans (and the applause).
Pro tip: Be your own biggest fan.
7. You Still Need Stats and Feedback – If there aren’t statistics, I don’t know what to do. How does “what we did” translate into “what can I do better?” or “how can I improve?” There is no “job well done.” We need the facts jack. We need to watch film, we need to rehash all the bad plays, we need to scrutinize the good plays and we need to know hitting percentages, assists, aces and blocking averages so we can get better for goodness sake! How are we going to get better? We need the stats! Stat.
Pro tip: Stop keeping track. You did good, son.
8. Where’s the Huddle? – Sometimes I wander aimlessly after I finish a workout or after I drop my kids at school just looking for a huddle to put my hand into. If there are six people in any given space, I will constantly be trying to get them all together just so we can count to three, say something amazing and break. I am still drawn to a huddle, to a team – a community. Collegiate sports wasn’t only being part of a team, it was being part of a bigger system, a bigger purpose, a bigger goal.
Pro tip: When there’s not enough people to form a huddle, start handing out high fives.
If you played collegiate sports (or were part of a brotherhood/sisterhood) you know that these communities can be hard to shake and can be hard to transition out of. The coolest thing is you can transfer all this goodness to other communities and other responsibilities in your life. Jobs, communities, families, relationships, churches, youth programs…you name it.
Pro tip: You learned much from your time as an athlete find ways to pay it forward, it’s a great way to stay connected to the community that was such a big part of your life.