Whether it is because of age, an injury, or health issue- at some point you stop being able to compete in the sport that has defined who you are. When this happens it feels like a part of you has left and you can’t get them back. You try to fill your time with other things but nothing is the same. Your life is moving on and there is nothing you can do to go back in time, and get the chance to play just one more competitive game.
To those of you who feel this way, I have a few pieces of advice for you. I am here to tell you that it is going to be okay. No matter what stage you are at.
- It is okay to relive those memories.
I will never forget the last game I played. It was one of the best games of my life. I will never forget those team bus rides, pasta dinners, the hotel stays, or the feeling of holding that medal when my team came in first place. These memories make me smile, they bring happiness.
2. It is okay to feel sad and miss the game.
There are moments that I get stuck in a rut. I would give my left arm to play again. Not only do I miss the sport itself; but I miss my best friends, my teammates. I miss how it felt to run until my legs felt like jello. The way I felt after a really good work out. I miss the way my teammates and I cheered each other on, how we had each others backs. I miss the way it felt to win as a team. They way we came together.
3. It is okay to play recreationally.
This is probably the closest you can get to those feelings ever again. It is not the same but as least you still have a team. The real fun of the sport (that you may have lost sight of during intense competition) comes back to you. The good news is there is still opportunity in the future to play the sport that you love.
4. It is okay to find a new hobby.
As corny as it sounds, the empty void that came with the completion of competitive sports, left me with the time to find some new talents (and I must admit, a better social life.) I forced myself to do different things. I took up making bracelets. I began to do yoga. I even took up writing this blog. I had no idea that sports was not the only way that you could come to “find yourself,” and all the different qualities that you possess. This is a very positive thing.
5. It is okay to stop playing one day.
This day may come sooner to some than it does for others, and that is okay. The memories that you create from playing this sport and the amazing friendships that have come from it will outweigh the ability to physically play. The lessons you’ve learned from being part of a team and having to carry responsibility will take you a long way in life. Farther than the 1st place trophy sitting on your nightstand.
Ultimately, your participation in competitive sports will always be a part of who you are. It will forever be a subject that is close to your heart. Hold it there.