As graduation draws near, many students are sad that they will be leaving their friends and heading off into the real world.
The friendships and bonds may not be severed, but distance often becomes a factor and people do not get to see each other nearly as often. It is difficult to say goodbye to best friends, acquaintances, mentors, and other influential people. But there is another group that has to say goodbye to not only people, but also to a way of life.
For most graduating athletes or seniors in their final seasons of eligibility, college athletics are the final destination of their competitive careers. Many athletes start playing sports when they are five years old and have played every year for 15 or more years. Saying goodbye to the sport you love can be very difficult for many athletes.
I played baseball from age five to age 15 and it was very difficult giving it up in high school. I can’t even imagine playing for another five years and then it ending in an instant. Sure there are recreation leagues and other various means of playing basketball, softball, or other sports, but the level of camaraderie and competition does not even compare to playing college sports.
Not only are athletes saying goodbye to the sport, but also to their teammates as well. Teammates often develop close relationships, especially those at the same class level. The bond between athletes develops from training, practicing and competing together every day, or most days, for four straight years. Teammates are willing to go the extra mile and support each other through adversity and separating from them can be like being away from a family member or loved one.
Statistically, very few collegiate athletes play professional sports. At a small Division-II school like Ferris State, that number is even fewer.
Jake Visser, a two-time All-American defensive tackle for the Ferris football team and the best FSU athlete in the most popular sport in the country, did not even make the cut in the NFL.
If Visser cannot make it in professional football, the odds are just as slim for other athletes. The reality is that college is the end of the road for most athletes and that can be a very tough pill to swallow. n