With another school year about to end, many collegiate athletes are saying goodbye to their lifelong hobbies.
No more early morning workouts. No more long bus rides after a game. No more team bonding. No more curfews. No more sports.
This is the situation many athletes are facing after playing sports in high school and college. When it’s over they experience their first real offseason.
Senior football player at Western New England University, in Springfield, Massachusetts, Matt Furniss, has walked off the field for the last time. He admits it’s an experience unlike any he’s faced before.
“It’s real tough because it’s something I’ve done my whole life and it’s been a real big part of my life," he says. "To play your last your game and know that you’re done playing, it’s tough to see that part of my life go.”
Furniss is not alone. These athletes who have been playing the game they love most of their lives are now hanging up their jerseys for the last time.
Senior basketball player at Springfield College Alex Berthiaume is in a similar situation. He still can’t believe the game he has loved his entire life has come to an end.
He talks about ending his career in the NCAA tournament.
“There was a lot of emotions...It was very tough, and its just kind of crazy, like I feel like I was just picking out my college yesterday and now it’s all over with,” he says. “The experience was just, guys will never forget it.”
Berthiaume, who was awarded All-American his senior year at Springfield College, knows that even though his playing days are over, that doesn’t mean he’ll remain off the court.
“I know I’ll definitely be involved whether it’s coaching, or playing, or going back to my high school and playing with those guys. I mean I’ll definitely be around the game, but it is different," he said. "It’s definitely tough…you hate to see it come to an end.”
Like Berthiaume, some athletes who finish their playing careers turn their love of the game into coaching.
Former High School basketball coach, in East Windsor, Conn., George Thomas is the perfect example. Thomas, who was a three-sport athlete and played baseball at the collegiate level, says former players can become great coaches.
“As I was playing, the influence that my coaches had on me left such an effect that I was hoping someday maybe I could become a coach and have that same effect on my players," he said. "Once you realize that your playing days are done …you keep involved in that coaching part of it because of that competitiveness."
Like the other athletes, Thomas was also involved in his last game recently. His, however, was coaching in the state championship. Despite winning that game and accomplishing something that East Windsor had never done before, Thomas says his title victory and record are not what meant the most to him.
“The experiences I’ve had as a coach has been ups and downs, but the rapport that I have been able to develop with the athletes who I have worked with is what’s most important," he says.
Even though these athletes and coaches may have heard the final buzzer, one thing is for sure: they went out on top.