Katie had been a swimmer since an early age. She was on a partial scholarship at a Division I program. Swimming was taking a huge toll on her academic success. After a lot of thought, she decided to give up her scholarship and focus on her career.
Deciding when to move on from being a student-athlete can be a tough decision. There is a sense of guilt that you are letting down your teammates. There is also a sense of loss of identity since you have always thought of yourself as an athlete.
Here’s how you can work through the decision of when to move on.
- Make a list of concerns. For each of the concerns, ask yourself: “What can I do to minimize this?” For example, if you are concerned about the loss of scholarship, how can you make up the financial loss?
- Once you have prepared your analysis from Step 1, discuss your analysis with your parents and your advisor. As you present your analysis to others, your decision will become more evident to you in the way you describe your thinking. Those who are close to you will get a sense of your decision even when you don’t realize it for yourself.
- Should you decide to move on, you will need to make some plans:
- What will you do to channel your competitive energy?
- How will you tell your coach and teammates about your decision?
- How will you move on to new personal relationships to replace those you had with your teammates?
- How will you follow through on your plans to minimize the concerns identified in Step 1?
Deciding when to move on can be one of those life-changing decisions for a student-athlete. In Katie’s case, she decided to move on. She joined the women’s rugby club to maintain her competitive drive. She was able to obtain internships which more than made up for her scholarship. She became close to her classmates in her major, and this helped improve her academic success. The end result was a great job when she graduated.
Don was a walk-on football player who rarely got on the field. Practice took tremendous time, but Don decided it was important for him to remain on the team. There was a change in head coaches prior to Don’s senior year. Don was given a scholarship when one became available. He became a special team contributor. In his final game of his college career, he was named MVP in a major bowl game due to his performance on the field.
In both Katie and Dons’ cases, they made the right decision for them. What was most important in both cases was that they made a conscious decision rather than just keep “going on.”