More so now than ever before, professional athletes are preparing for life after sport while their careers are still going. It is not uncommon for athletes to train, head to uni then back to the gym throughout the week.
But what about the athletes who haven’t found their calling yet? Those who feel like they’re being pushed to study for a career they never see eventuating. What happens to them when it’s time to move on?
That question was facing beach volleyballer Jess Ngauamo twelve months ago when she was tossing up whether to push forward for another training cycle or to call it quits. If she did retire, there was no obvious move into the workforce approaching.
Ngauamo was fortunate to pursue a successful college volleyball career at UCLA, but was never inspired to finish her degree and a passion for life outside of sport simply didn’t eventuate. The prospect of leaving beach volleyball for another career was not an easy path to see.
Thankfully for Ngauamo, Volleyball Australia was starting a new process to help athletes transition to life post-retirement and help them on their career journey. With the support of her coaches, she was given time to consider her options, and when she decided to move on, VA Athlete Wellbeing & Engagement Manager Jason Tutt provided just the support she needed.
“Jason gave me a big hand last year,” said Ngauamo. “He set me up with a psych to help me transition out of sport so it didn’t feel like I was out on my own.
“Through those sessions I was able to transition out of sport but also then think about what to do next, but not in a way which I felt like I was forced to do anything.
“Over about a six month period working with the psych and having chats with Jason I was able to find something that appealed to me.”
That appeal came in the form of the Queensland Fire & Emergency Services, and she is now hopeful of a career in that field.
“There’s a lot of similarities between the firies and a professional sporting career,” said Ngauamo. “There’s a lot of things that align with what I used to do.
“It ticks a lot of boxes in that sense but also gave me a different purpose, and that was the biggest thing I think: to find a purpose outside of sport.
“It’s not an easy thing to do because it’s such a big part of your life for so long, and then you lose it, and you’re like ‘what else do I have?’.”
Ngauamo credits Tutt and the athlete wellbeing program at VA…
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