Submission by Jamie Jordan
For many people in the United States, athletics is a perfect way to continue playing the
sport you love, while helping pay for tuition. From personal experience, I chose to become a
college athlete so I could attend college for a much lower price. I soon found that being a
college athlete soon became who I was, it was my identity. I recall always stating I belonged to
the softball team on campus when introducing myself in any given situation.
But what happens when you decide to walk away from athletics; whether it’s for an injury
or personal reasons? I went through this in the fall of 2017. After several months of debating my
options, I decided to hang up my cleats and walk away from the sport I had loved since I was in
second grade. The decision did not come lightly as some may think, but it was what was best
for me. No longer was I the athlete I had always been, so who was I?
It took a few weeks for me to adjust to a new routine and create a new identity for
myself. I personally found that joining several organizations on campus helped me create a new
identity fairly quickly. Within the new organizations I joined, I was able to meet new students that
I probably never would have talked to if I hadn’t joined; but I am thankful today that I have.
In addition to my own personal testimony, I sat down with the DMACC Women’s
Basketball Assistant Coach and Honors Advisor, Jocelyn Kovarik to get her opinion and advice
for students who are approaching the end of their athletic career. Kovarik’s advice is to “utilize
all that energy that once went into your sport for something else that produces good and makes
you a better person. Use the skills you learned in your sport, such as showing up on time, in
your day to day lives, as well as putting forth that same dedication into something new.” Kovarik
gives great advice to those athletes who are no longer continuing a sport. Her expertise comes
from playing two years of basketball at DMACC and two years at Iowa State as well as being a
coach to athletes who have gone through the process of ending an athletic career.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association has reported that only 1,151 college
athletes are drafted into professional athletic careers so if you ever as a athlete or former
athlete, find yourself in this predicament of not knowing what is next, I urge you to take a call of
action. Join a group or organization on campus, get involved in your community, reach out to
peers that you have never met and create a new identity for yourself. For most of us college
athletes, athletics only last for another 2-4 years, so it is incredibly important to go outside your
comfort zone and begin the journey of expanding your networks.