Perhaps the most intimidating task any athlete ever faces is making the “transition”. Olympic athletes find their passion and their purpose at an increasingly young age and chase down their dreams in hopes of glory and fulfillment. While we typically hear the success stories and life changing moments highlighted on The Today Show, many don’t realize what is waiting for them on the other end. After a lifetime of a clear vision, making the transition out of sport and into the “real” world is an intimidating task for countless athletes. The book deals, TV contracts, and appearance gigs are for the 1%. For most Olympic athletes the reality remains, when their athletic careers are over they’re really over. Time to get on and move on.
I can confirm, the transition is not easy. Chasing Olympic dreams fills you with purpose. Every day I woke up and went to training I knew exactly what I was working towards and where I hoped to get. While I’d be willing to gamble that is not uncommon across most Olympic athletes, I don’t know if the same can be said for retired Olympic athletes. Michael Phelps has been an outspoken proponent for athlete’s mental health struggles, as countless athletes continue to struggle with this battle and finding an identity post athletic career. He’s onto something.
While I knew at a very early age that I wanted to pursue my Olympic dreams, education was never off the table. I certainly had an untraditional path, but always planned to pursue my college degree. Thus, I felt like I had a “plan” for when I retired; and, while I was confident this was the right decision, transitioning from traveling the world and the highs of competition to sitting in a classroom is much easier said than done. I often times found myself trying to treat college like another World Cup competition, in which I was constantly striving for the podium (aka the best grade possible).
As I have spent the past year and a half completing my college degree and that infamous “transition” into the real world I have learned so much. Among the many things I’ve learned, perhaps the most important is elite athletes possess countless invaluable skills that they can adapt to their next career. The discipline and pursuit of excellence instilled into elite athletes is incredibly powerful and has a multitude of applications.
Although it is not quite the same as being named to an Olympic team or hearing the National Anthem play while standing on top of a World Cup podium, graduating from the University of Utah and starting a new career is equally as rewarding to me. I am excited to “virtually” graduate next week from the David Eccles School of Business and begin a new career in private equity. I plan to start working at a small firm in Park City, Utah called Inoca Capital Partners as an analyst. I have drawn many parallels between my athletic career and the world of private equity, and am incredibly excited to have completed that “transition”.
While I have officially moved onto a new career, my skiing days will never be behind me. I plan to continue chasing deep powder and bluebird days while simultaneously supporting the Olympic movement.