So since college, I’ve only played tennis a handful of times.
And honestly, over the past year, I haven’t hit once.
I got involved in other things. Lifting became my passion. It is what I trained for.
And I didn’t seem to miss the tennis at all. Which was funny since I’d loved tennis and it had been a HUGE part of my life since a very young age.
I just didn’t seem miss it. I loved all of training that I was doing.
I even started to question if I ever really loved tennis. Almost every other college athlete I knew went through “withdrawal” when they first stop playing.
But then two weeks ago, I began coaching again and even started hitting.
Suddenly that spark I’d thought I’d lost was re-ignited. Suddenly I wanted to play again and be good.
I wanted to be a top player again. But why? I then thought, “Will I ever truly be able to be as good as I once was and do I honestly want to dedicate the time and energy to become that good again?”
My answer was simply, “No.”
I didn’t want to spend hours a day hitting to try to get back to where I once was. I mean what truly would be the point?
I have no chance of going pro or really making it a profession outside of coaching. So why waste the time?
Yes, I love the sport, but I can satisfy that love by hitting just even a few times a week (even if it is sometimes frustrating that I’m only a shadow of what I once was).
But even though tennis will never play the same role in my life again, the spark is still there.
And I know realize, the spark never actually even faded.
While I love tennis as a sport in and of itself, what my passion, what my spark was really all about was more than just tennis.
My love for tennis stems from my love of competition, of learning and mastering a skill. From my love of physical activity where you are solely dependent on yourself, your skill and your mental toughness.
Because of all the reasons I loved tennis, I feel in love with lifting and all of the competitions that go along with it.
Anyway, this whole thought process started when I was thinking about athletes who get injuries that prevent them from ever again competing in their chosen sport.
While it is most definitely than simply graduating because it is a FORCED separation, the point is the spark is still there in both.
The key though is to use that spark to become great at something else that fills the void.
Once an athlete, always an athlete. No matter your age, you never lose that spark.