After experiencing an emotional senior day and playing in the final football game of my career, I had to figure out what was next in my journey as an Oberlin student.
The Monday after playing the last game of my career felt a little different than most Mondays. On most other Mondays during the season, we would have to wake up and go to the gym at seven o'clock in the morning. This time around, I didn't have to do that. During lunchtime, we would also usually have to watch the film from the previous game in order to make corrections for the next week. However, there was no "next week" for the team. Saturday was the last game of the season and the last time that team would ever get to play together. It was the last time that the rest of the seniors and I were able to play a college football game, or an organized football game at all forthat matter.
One of the first things I noticed about the season ending was how much more time I was able to utilize.
With football being as time-consuming as it was, it felt nice to experience being away from it and having time to rest my body. Of course, I missed the game a lot, and I knew that this feeling wasn't ever going to go away, but I also knew that my mind and body were thanking me for giving them the rest that they deserved.
Football is a very mentally challenging game. It's a game that consists of both stress and strategy, and that is never going to change. The people involved with it are always going to interact with those two things, because that's just the nature of the game. There were no new plays to go over in my head, no film about the next opponent to watch, no new strategies to implement for our offense, none of that. Football was over, and there was nothing that I could really do about that. I accepted that fact as soon as the clock hit 0:00 after my last football game.
I didn't have to deal with any responsibilities as a football player anymore, so I was able to spend more time doing other things...
I got to actually work on my studies and my research more effectively. I already had a system in place to manage my time, but since I had a lot more time, I could be a lot more productive. Honestly, things have been the most stress-free they have been in a while for me. School feels like it slows down whenever football season is over. Since football is completely over for me, I realize that this "extra" time I have is time that I can actually get used to. I also work as a writer for multiple media platforms, so I was able to spend more energy being involved with that as well. I didn't have to worry about creating certain blocks that limit the amount of time it took for me to write. I had a lot more energy to spend, so I could just sit in the library for many hours longer than I usually would.
Football used to take so much energy out of me, and sometimes, I would truly underestimate that.
Everything just feels less draining for me now. I still experience some soreness from the game here and there, but I don't have to deal with as much fatigue as I used to. With meetings, workouts, practices, and games to constantly go to on a day-to-day basis, there wasn't enough time for me to rest as much as I wanted to. Now that football is over, these responsibilities are completely off my shoulders. The consequences from this have been really delightful for my sleep schedule especially. I used to be able to sleep for five to six hours and fully function throughout the day. I don't have to do that anymore, and honestly, it has done wonders for my well-being. Even after being a week removed from the game, I already feel a massive difference in how much energy I have. I go to class and I don't feel as tired as I normally do. Walking up the King staircase doesn't feel like the grind that it normally does. It's still a long and painful walk at times, but it's not as bad as it used to be, especially after experiencing those difficult leg workouts in the gym! While I still find some time to work out every weekday, it's still not nearly as time-consuming as all the things I had to do for football. I just have to go to the gym for at least one hour out of the day, and then I get to go back to my place. When I was playing, I wouldn't be on my time. I would be on my coach's time.
Retirement also indicated that I have more time to focus on what I need to do to ensure that I'm successful after I leave Oberlin College.
Luckily, I was able to deal with all of my registration requirements right after the season ended, so that means less stress for me during my spring semester. I also started really focusing on where I want to live and work after graduation. It's only six months away, whether I like it or not. If anything, football taught me that preparation will help you reach success the most. Therefore, I feel obligated to apply that mindset to my own life past football.
Things are only going to feel weirder moving forward, but I embrace the changes that are coming in my life.
The end of the season is a period of relaxation for most football players, but the returning players will eventually come back. Seniors such as myself will not be able to return. There is no offseason program for me to work out in when I return from winter term in the spring. I don't have any opponents to study. The main opponent I have to face consists of all the obstacles on the way to graduation. It will feel strange to see my younger teammates grind without me, but it's just part of the process. I will miss the game of football. However, retirement has been treating me nicely. I'm looking forward to seeing where it takes me from here.