Of all the high school athletes there are in the U.S., only about 5 percent get the chance to play at the collegiate level. For collegiate football and basketball athletes, less than 1 percent get the chance to go pro. This leaves thousands of recently graduated former athletes, whose entire life has revolved around their sport, wondering what to do with this passion.
For many, coaching in some form or another seems to be the answer.
“I plan on coaching my kids one day,” sophomore soccer player Caelyn Reineke said. “I also want to continue playing on the side to stay in shape in the future.”
Other athletes agree with Reineke. Dan Walters, senior baseball player, and Melissa Veerman, former basketball player, both see a future involving the sport they spent so much of their lives on.
“My plan is to apply for an internship with the Cleveland Indians,” Walters said. “I wouldn’t mind coaching one day; I just want to be around the game somehow. Whether that’s with my kids coaching them through t-ball, soft pitch, and eventually in high school, or in going the other route and working with the professionals. I love this game.”
Coaching is an outlet for former athletes, allowing them to use their knowledge of the sport to help shape and create the next generation of athletes. Whether they are discussing their successes, failures, or any other trick of the trade, it all benefits those who they hope will one day share in the same passion that they do.
One undeniable fact about all college athletes is that their sport has made an impact on their lives.
For some, it’s a way to better themselves, and potentially their families, doing all that they can to improve their situation. For others it’s an escape, a way to get away from all the stress that other parts of their lives tend to bring.
“I know I can count on some of the girls I played with and will be friends with them for quite some time.” Veerman said. “I also was able to become an excellent time manager trying to balance sports, school, work and extracurricular activities.”
One of the best things former athletes can do is give advice. Their word means so much to those who will one day be in their shoes, and they can help future athletes avoid making the same mistakes they did.
“Make sure you know you love the game and are willing to sacrifice everything for it,” Reineke said. “Because once something gets in the way [like an injury], it can help you in the present and future just make sure you make the right decision and it won’t be something you regret.”