Dealing with your “first death:” Former Belltower EIC Katie Hargrave’s advice to graduating student athletes

Dealing with your “first death:” Former Belltower EIC Katie Hargrave’s advice to graduating student athletes

James Colasurdo, Staff Writer

“They say an athlete dies twice, the first being when they retire.” –Roger Kahn (1972).

katie hargrave

Imagine that you’ve been playing sports since elementary school to now accepting a scholarship to play a sport in college. Then, one day, as you graduate, your whole life changes. You “retire” from your sport and find yourself out in the real world. From this premise, holistic health coach and personal trainer, as well as Saint Martin’s University alumni, Katie Hargrave, former Belltower Editor-in-Chief, Katie Hawkins, writes her book, “The Athlete After: A 10-Week Guide To Balancing Life After Sports.”

Hargrave writes from personal experience. Playing basketball as a child and continuing with a scholarship to play basketball at Saint Martin’s, Hargrave seemed all but ready to stop being a student athlete. However, the transition from being a student athlete to a world without sports was a rough one. The transition includes a change not only in self-perception, social environment, emotions, and relationships, but also in nutrition and exercise. 

Before covering the transition, let’s briefly cover the life of a student athlete. Hargrave states that being a student athlete is, “one of the hardest things you can do” in college. It is a constant struggle of balancing time playing your sport and doing coursework. Hargrave says that a constant question going through her mind was, “do I skip practice, or do I skip class?” Skipping practice results in pressure to attend from coaches and skipping class results from constant pressure from professors. Hargrave states that she would wake up early and often practice basketball three hours a day. Also, if you were dealing with an injury, Hargrave continues that, “you could be looking at four hours a day on your sport.”

Out in the real world, the time management and discipline you attain from managing all of that can greatly benefit you, but it can also break you.

Majoring in English and having worked two years for the Belltower, she pursued a career in publishing in Seattle. However, Hargrave found herself struggling with her career choice and identity after spending more than 15 years playing basketball. Now working two jobs, Hargrave soon realized that she was eating just as much as when she was a student athlete, but was not burning off the calories. Her two jobs also affected how much time she had to exercise and eat right every day. Since she never learned how to cook, she was stuck with meals such as frozen pizza for supper.  

Trying to fix the issue, she started exercising again and tried fixing her diet by yo-yo dieting, but this did not work as she would inevitably gain back any weight she lost.

Finally, things began to change when she received her holistic health coach certification through a 10-week year online program from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Later, Hargrave received her personal trainer certification through the American Council on Exercise (ACE). Going through the program taught Hargrave that, “Instead of saying (just) one way is correct, many possible ways can be correct.” The programs showed her many different possibilities for eating healthy and she learned that what might work for one person may not work another. For instance, one might ask, “should I eat dairy or not?” Or what about other diets such as going vegan? She soon learned other important things such as how to cook, and that people should tailor their diets and exercises to their current lifestyles. She found she had properly adjusted from her transition. This is when Hargrave realized she wanted to help people learn how to properly eat and train, which in turn inspired the book.

If you’re curious about ways to eat healthier, train properly, preparing to play a sport, or are an individual like Hargrave struggling with the transition from being a student athlete, her book is for you.



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