My name is Norris Frederick.
I’m a professional athlete and I’ve been a professional athlete for the past 9 years.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve uttered that statement or a statement just like it. However, it just dawned on me a few nights ago that I feel like that is all I am; “just” a professional athlete. The sad thing about that is, there are so many dimensions to being a professional athlete that the title shouldn’t feel like a “just”. Professional athletes are mentors, role models, coaches, therapists, brand ambassadors, advocates, philanthropists; the list could go on. Professional athletes are all these phenomenal things and more. But the headliner that sticks with most people is that you’re “just” a professional athlete. To me having this title has been a blessing, I’m not going to say anything negative about it, but now that I’m at the back end of my career and deciding if this is something I still want to pursue or not, I’m finding that I’m having a very difficult time with that decision. When I look at my resume, there are degrees and academic achievements but everything is dominated by my athletic accolades. And what I am struggling with about that is: how can an athletically-focused resume match up to all those purely academic resumes out there when trying to go after a job or go through a similar transition as someone else searching for their next career? How do I separate myself from the bunch?
So many people have asked me throughout my career, “What happens after you’re done?”, and at a snap of my finger I will think to respond: “Well, I’m going to do this…. No, I’m going to do that…”, and then I find it’s a challenge to actually come up with a definitive answer that I know I will follow through with. The truth is, this type of transition phase is pretty scary and I don’t know the right message to send or right things to say about it. When I ask others for advice all I hear is, “You know, just be yourself and you’ll be alright. You’re a likeable guy” and other seemingly generic things like that. But it’s hard to take a step outside of myself and think about what unique things I bring to the table. I see myself every day. I deal with myself every day. I know what makes me “tick” and what makes me happy. But somehow I don’t feel that I will be OK if I don’t actively do something about where I’m at in life. I’m constantly struck with the fact that one day my career as a professional athlete is going to be gone. Then what will I have? Then what will I be? What is my legacy outside of being a ‘former professional athlete’? What else do I leave behind?
I don’t know if all of this may be too ‘heavy’, but I want to be real with you guys. If anyone out there has any advice or would like to share what they’ve done during a time like this, I’m all ears right now. I’m assuming it’s not that much of a transition for a non-professional athlete going from one job to another, but I could be wrong in that assumption. So if anyone can shed some light on the situation and is feeling open to share, I’m very open to hear what you have to say.
At this moment I am at a standstill. But being at a standstill does not prevent life from stopping, so I know I cannot stay at a standstill. So please reach out and let me know what you have to say. I’m looking forward to your response.