After four years of the grind as a student-athlete, the transition for them is more than just life after college. It’s also life after playing a sport for most of their lives.
From going to practice each day, traveling most weekends, doing homework in your spare time, then waking up Monday morning and doing it all over again to nothing, the change in lifestyle is notable.
For some of Eastern Kentucky University’s seniors like softball player Murphy McRoberts, the jump from a lifestyle that has been routine and comfortable to one that is new and somewhat scary is a big one.
“We’ve been doing our sports for years. This is my 16th year now,” McRoberts said. “It’s hard to picture life without my sport.”
Originally from Fort Collins, Colorado, McRoberts came to EKU to play softball. She decided to double major in criminal justice and Spanish. With those two majors, McRoberts is planning on going back to school to get her master’s in political science with a focus on domestic violence.
It was through her experiences with the Spanish program’s service-learning program that she realized she wanted to work with domestic violence cases in her career.
Coming from Colorado, McRoberts said she did not know anyone in Richmond. As a softball player, however, she was able to immerse herself into a team environment that became her support system.
“I think the scariest part is I’m going to be moving, and I’m not going to know anybody,” McRoberts said. “Wherever I go next, I don’t have that, so it’s going to be hard. I’m going to feel alone at times.”
Despite the change in environment, McRoberts said that she feels like Eastern has greatly prepared her for her future. She learned time management skills, she said, and how to do her best, no matter what she was feeling that day. Those are the skills that she said will benefit her most going into this next stage of life.
Like McRoberts, Amanda Lindahl, a senior women’s golfer, traveled far to come to EKU, but Lindahl made the trip from another country.
Born and raised in Sven Eriksongymnasiet, Sweden, Richmond became Lindahl’s home for her four years of college. However, Lindahl does not plan on staying here after graduation. She decided to return home and is trying to play in its professional league.
“It’s home, where my family is,” Lindahl said, “but it’s going to be a hard transition, too, because I have all my friends and my life here now.”
As an international business major, Lindahl said that she sees herself going into a business career down the road or going back to school to get her MBA but being an athlete is something that has defined her and other student athletes for so long, she said. She said it helped her gain independence, meet people from all over the world and learn to work in a team environment.
Unlike Lindahl, Greyson Winiger, a senior on the cross country and track and field teams does not plan on continuing his sport after graduating, he said. As a general biology major with a chemistry minor, Winiger said his post-graduation agenda includes going to the University of Cincinnati’s physical therapy school.
Though his time at EKU has been extremely eye-opening, he said, he does not find it necessarily scary to be graduating and leaving his sport behind. The one concern he does have, he said, is that his graduate program will be much more difficult than the classes he has experienced thus far.
His biggest advice to underclassmen is to make a lot of connections and take any opportunities to see what the best path for them is. McRoberts gave similar advice and said it is never too early for students to try new things and figure out what they want to do.
And for the student athletes who still have time left in their sport, never take it for granted, because it won’t last forever, Lindahl said.
“Be ready that one day you’re not going to be playing your sport. You’re going to be done with college,” Lindahl said. “Enjoy it while it lasts. It feels like four years is a lot, but then when you’re a senior, it’s been flying by.”