Elite athletes spend countless hours over the course of years on the training necessary to develop their skills. The trophies, medals, awards and recognition help to define who they are. So we must wonder, what happens when an athlete decides to leave professional sports? How do you determine “what’s next?
The Moment You Decide
This period of transition can be a very uneasy time for the athlete. Fear, sadness, and excitement are fighting for control. For Danielle Carruthers Philipose, Track and Field athlete and World Championship Silver Medalist, that transition took place in 2014.
From age 14 until her retirement at 34, Danielle traveled non-stop. She loved everything about being an athlete. As Danielle grew older, she faced more injuries and began to miss home. One day Danielle went to training and felt the weight of those years catch up with her. She simply told her coach, “I’m done.” Danielle shared, “Making that decision was very emotional. It’s all you’ve ever known and it’s still hard to break from it even though you know the timing is right.”
The Moments that Follow
It’s still emotional for her today. This will be the first Olympics that Danielle hasn’t dedicated herself to. “For once, there is no huge goal in August. Two years later, I still miss it”, she says. You can see the emotion on her face and hear it in her voice as she talks about her personal transition. Initially, an elite competitor must recognize their identity is not solely defined by their athleticism. Still, the traits that helped drive their success in professional sports will carry them far in a new career.
Moving forward professionally
The change isn’t easy but preparation helps. If you are looking to transition out of professional sports, start by:
- Talking with friends and family about other career options
- Researching different industries
- Interviewing experts within their chosen field
- Working with a career coach
- Job shadowing
- Trial and error
The path may not always be clear or defined. It’s okay to take chances and determine what peaks your interest. Your sport was not determined overnight and your next career shouldn’t be either. It takes time to develop unfamiliar skills and find new passions. Danielle utilized the USOC Athlete Career and Education Program to help her through her transition.
Now, she works as a Recruiter in Adecco’s Atlanta office. Her new role has helped her learn new skills and make a career game plan. Sitting at her desk, Danielle admits, “I’m still evaluating my next passion…The first rule is to not be hard on yourself during your first non-sport career. There is a lot to learn and take one day at a time.”
To learn more visit, Danielle Carruthers’s bio