What it’s like to quit the sport you love

I miss it, a lot

There’s nothing stranger than looking at the soccer team proudly wearing their knee length down jackets, running shorts, along with the bruises and turf burns from a good game – and realizing that they have no idea that I used to be one of them.

When I came to college everything about me felt the same – until I would mention soccer and my new friends would say, “Wait, you played soccer?”

Since second grade, soccer had been a part of my identity. I was never the best on my team, but I always had one. I had a season. I had practice every day and games every weekend. I was a soccer player. Now, I haven’t touched a ball in months. And I miss it.

So I asked other students what it’s like for them being a former athlete at a Big Ten university.

Dana Griffin, Freshman, Business

“I definitely miss the competitive atmosphere.

“Now that I’m not playing anymore, I realized how much it shaped me as a person and I’m glad that now I have a whole school to root for.”

Elizabeth Blodgett, Freshman, Human Resource Management

“Coming from a girl who’s played soccer since she was 5 years old, the abrupt stop was difficult. There were quite a few times when I wished I could go back to a soccer practice.

“Instead, I’d grab a few friends and play a pick-up game outside my dorm.”

Becca Siverhus, Freshman, Business

“I definitely miss my team, coaches, and the competition.

“But it is really amazing to be able to root for a whole new team that cares about the game as much as I do.”

Joe Cassano, Freshman, Business Management and Entrepreneurship 

“Being an athlete all throughout high school, all those sports became a part of my identity. When that was essentially stripped from me, I felt like I lost a part of who I was. Sure, I can still swim, toss the baseball, shoot some hoops, or hit around the tennis ball, but the fact that I’m not doing it competitively and as a part of a team is a pretty significant loss for me, especially when the athletes who are playing in college are my friends and classmates.

I played seven sports throughout my time in high school, with swimming being my main focus and the only sport I did for more than a year. And I was pretty good at it. I was a captain of the team and made it to state in all my events as a senior. Now, I’m in the stands watching all the athletes at Iowa do what I used to do and it does hurt a little bit, knowing I couldn’t take it seriously enough to make it to the next level.

“I applaud them for all their efforts and they definitely deserve to be where they are. I just wish that I put in a little more effort in high school so I could practice and compete with them, but now I do my best to cheer on all the athletes we have competing at Iowa.”

Sam Milder, Freshman, Elementary Education

“I used to run track and cross country, and play softball in high school. At the end of senior year, I thought that I was done with sports and was content with being done, but as time has gone by I’ve realized that I really miss them. Whenever I go work out at the ‘rec’ and see the athletes there I get super jealous and think about what I could’ve been like if I continued playing sports.

“I have played sports since I was in kindergarten so it’s super weird for me not to play them competitively. I still run and work out on a regular basis, but it’s not the same feeling as competing.”

Jordan Arielle, Freshman, Athletic Training

“I played water polo, and it sucks being at a school that has literally every sport but water polo in D1. I live with a bunch of athletes and I miss being in a team atmosphere.

“I played year-round and went to the junior olympics, so the transition to do doing a lot to doing nothing kind of sucks at times.”

From the satisfaction of a hard practice, to the pride in a great win, sports call for dedication and it definitely becomes a lasting part of every athlete’s life. Whether craving the feel of a good shot on goal, a solid spike, or an ace serve, it’s clear that many Iowa students miss their days as athletes.

If one thing is certain though it’s that Iowa has plenty of ways for former athletes to experience the sports they love. Whether playing pick-up games, joining intramural sports, hitting the ‘rec’, or cheering on our Hawkeyes, every Iowa student has the opportunity to immerse themselves in their favorite sports.

University of Iowa