So I find myself a spectator at another high caliber meet once again.
Except this time it’s the NCAA division 1 national championship.
It’s in Austin, Texas.
And yes, it’s hot AF.
I mean both in the literal (temperature)
And metaphorical (performance) sense.
After the men’s final...as is usually the case in a meet like that there were some highly anticipated “going pro” announcements.
Grant Holloway and Daniel Roberts come to mind.
But there were other seniors on the track.
Seniors who may or may not be ready to hang up their spikes.
Who aren’t getting covered by FloTrack and discussed to exhaustion in Facebook groups.
Who aren’t getting courted by agents and shoe company reps who are also in attendance.
So what becomes of them?
What becomes of that athlete?
Is their participation in track and field over?
Is track and field post college even worth pursuing?
This post is for that athlete.
And the answer is: only you know.
We love to say “secure the bag” but the reality is only a few of us in this sport actually do.
The reason it seems like “getting paid” is the norm is because out of the hundreds, maybe thousands of athletes that actually do participate post collegiately...
the ones making money are in the top 1% and probably turn in the top 5% of high performances.
They are the story.
They are the lightning rods that attract the eyeballs the sport needs.
They are the ones that get the retweets, the shares, and the likes.
And then there’s you...
Maybe only your team knows what you contributed to the sport.
And maybe even fewer know your potential.
But you know.
You know if it’s worth it to you to see if there’s a “what else”
Or if you’re ready for “what’s next”
What else can I do in this sport.
what’s next for me after sport.
And when you put it that way,
A shoe contract doesn’t actually factor in to the equation.
Obviously, we’ve gotta be realistic.
Pursuing track and field post collegiately without financial backing is incredibly tough and becoming tougher (with these arbitrary rules instituted by the IAAF but that’s a rant for another post).
So the question is: what’s it worth to you to find out what else you can do in this sport?
Because “going pro” doesn’t necessarily mean you signed a shoe contract.
It can also simply mean you’ve advanced to the next available level of competition in track and field.
Because in this sport that’s pretty much what professional means.
When I was in college (way back in the day) I won everything there was to win my sophomore year.
Nobody was knocking on my door to take my talents to the pro circuit...
Of course that’s because I’m a long jumper and that event doesn’t have the prestige of the sprints.
It wasn’t until after I WON world championships that a professional career became an opportunity I could pursue.
How many people are there that you can think of that have left school early with a shoe contract in a field event?
My point is: That’s rare.
It’s all rare.
Even though that’s what you see and what you hear about more than anything.
It only has to be over if you want it to be
If you’re ready for it to be
And if you’re not ready for it to be
It’s time to make a plan
One that covers who will train you and where.
How you’ll compensate them for their time
How you’ll buy groceries
How you’ll get treatment and from who
Who your agent will be for the European meets that you can’t register yourself for.
How you’ll pay for your travel, and your rent.
But even more important than all of that...
You need to know without a doubt what success means to you.
And even after doing this professionally for thirteen years...
After being dropped,
You have to stay connected to the “why” of it all.
The elusive shoe contract although validating for some
Is not indicative of your ceiling
Or your potential.
Those men in that boardroom don’t know you.
They don’t see you.
They don’t know your story.
They see performances on paper.
But you know.
So as NCAA champs concludes
Remember to be proud of all you’ve contributed to your sport, to your team, and to your school.
And you’ll either commit to seeing what else you can do in this sport...
Or you’ll move on to what’s next.