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Sami Svrcek: Life After Sport

I played four years of division 1 soccer at UC Santa Barbara, thirteen years ago. I have had lots of time to reflect on my experience as well as see the evolution of women in the sport. Looking back, I took my ability to a very competitive level, made lifelong friendships, led my team by example and learned a lot about myself along the way. Soccer was my identity, my world and my passion ever since I was a little girl. I had a fulfilled and successful career, but it came to a very abrupt end that I was not prepared to deal with.

I remember the last home game, I was so overwhelmed that I had an anxiety attack on the field in the middle of the game. I didn’t know how to process the end of competitive soccer. Once I graduated college, I went into a deep depression – I did not know who I was without soccer. I felt like a failure because I did not have a clear vision of what my career would be or where to go next. After many years of accolades, goals and structure, I suddenly did not have that calculated roadmap ahead of me anymore, nor did I have a team of people rooting for me. My life went from being celebrated in a team environment to “get a career and start your future by yourself”.

I did not have any guidance or counseling right after to process the loss of soccer - it felt like a loss to me. I didn’t talk about soccer for many years after because no one really understood and it was too painful.

12 years later, I got pregnant and saw a therapist. During my pregnancy, I found myself reflecting on soccer and drew many comparisons to pregnancy. The dedication, nutritional awareness/restrictions, perseverance, pain, joy and beauty. The baby forced me to process my past in a healthy way, to talk about all of it, including the hardships, conflicts and tough relationships I had when I played. The therapy allowed me to celebrate myself and gave me tools to help create a better future for me, but also my daughter if she chooses to play one day.

My hope is that more student-athletes talk about the exit from competitive sports, sooner rather than later. For me, it wasn’t really talked about and I didn’t really know how or who to reach out to. I hope to see therapy for athletes as they move throughout their athletic careers and guidance as they transition into life after sport.


2 commentaires

21 déc. 2022

Thank you for sharing your story. You are not alone, as a recent division 1 student athlete graduate I am experiencing the same identity crisis. I want to know what we can do to help prevent graduating athletes from going through the same thing!


20 déc. 2022

This has made me feel not alone in my feeling of losing my sport after college. thank you

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