Until I was 22 and graduating college, I was a soccer player. Life consisted of practices during the week and games on the weekend. I loved my teams, I loved being outside, I loved playing! When my senior college soccer season ended, it was heartbreaking and I definitely went through soccer withdrawals.
I survived spring semester without daily practices, graduated, did a busy year of grad school, then got a full-time teaching job a year later. For those of you who haven’t gotten there yet, working full-time is a shock. It seemed like there were never enough hours in the day. In what felt like a short period of time, I went from working out 2 hours a day, 5-6 days a week to working out 5-6 times a month! I was not happy.
After playing soccer for so long, I was still in the mindset that I needed to workout every day, and it felt like I was losing a part of myself.
I had always been known as an athlete but now, most of the people I interacted with didn’t even know I had played soccer! I had considered myself a competitive athlete for so long and without playing soccer, I wasn’t sure if I still was.
Now, several years out of college and competitive soccer, life without soccer is still something I am working through. Here are a couple lessons I am learning:
1. Transitions are hard.
For me, transitioning from being a student-athlete to a working adult was not easy. I have some friends who were happy to be done with sports. They started pursuing new hobbies and interests right way and loved it! It wasn’t as simple for me and I am still learning how to adjust my expectations about my fitness, workouts, friendships, and free-time. Now that my “job” is no longer about being a soccer player, I have different responsibilities and have to change my priorities.
It hasn’t been easy but God has been with me through this transition, teaching me grace and new ways to honor him. Let's be aware of this transition and have grace for ourselves.
2. What’s next?
Through playing soccer, God placed amazing opportunities in my life: life-long relationships with teammates, traveling to Norway with my family, a mission trip in Africa, lessons about myself, sacrifice, and commitment. When my senior soccer season ended, I mourned because it felt like I would no longer get the friendships, experiences, and growth I had gotten through soccer. Now I can see that leaving competitive soccer was not the end of God’s provisions. I am confident God used soccer to help me grow and bring me closer to him, but I also know that he is faithful in all circumstances. Even though I’m not part of a team and practicing every day, God has blessed me in new ways and I can’t wait to see the experiences and growth God will bring me next.
3. I still am an athlete!
I may not be able to play center-mid for 90 minutes anymore but I enjoy work out classes, running half marathons, playing rec soccer, going on hikes and beach walks, and trying new sports. I have been blessed with a strong and healthy body that allowed me to play a sport I love for over 13 years! Pretty amazing. Even though I’m not on a soccer team right now, I have a strong and healthy body, and that’s an incredible gift!
So take heart! This transition is a hard one. It has been 3 years since I was out on the competitive soccer field. But hopefully you can give yourself grace during the transition, see that God still has amazing things for you, and remember - you are still an athlete!
Hey FAM! I grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and went to college Point Loma Nazarene University where I played soccer! Now I teach middle school science in Orange County. I love cooking, talking and walking with friends, and exploring new places. Thanks for reading!