Nick Egan knew he wouldn’t be an Olympic swimmer, but was still serious in his training and competed at the Division III level at Amherst College. Though he knew he would transition to the real world after graduating, he still struggled with the loss of social circle that were his teammates, a lack of daily structure, and most of all finding inspiration for consistent exercise when he wasn’t training for something specific. Done with swimming, he is still searching for an activity that sparks the same fire.
Daphne always knew her career in softball would lead to an education. During her senior year at Loyola Marymount University, she made a very difficult decision to end her college career by leaving the team. Though her transition was challenging, her experience as an accounting student in a Division I program prepared her for the rigorous and intense career path of working in public accounting, getting her CPA license, and becoming Vice President of Finance and CFO for various companies before eventually deciding to work for herself.
Melinda Rhoads did not know what handball was when she was volunteered to try out for a national team on site at her university. She and her teammates basically started from scratch in their early 20s, competing against life-long handball players on the international stage. They worked extremely hard, and fought their way to an Olympic birth, where they were able to claim fourth place in Los Angeles. Since then, she takes pride in having raised three athletic daughters, shares her Olympic experience with as many people as possible, passes on her wisdom to teens through coaching basketball, and teaches as a paraprofessional at the local high school.
Mike McDonald: Stanford Basketball Player Helping Athletes Recover Faster in the Medical Device Industry
Basketball was always part of Mike McDonald’s life, as his father, Glenn McDonald, had a long career as an NBA player and coach. Mike utilized his time at Stanford not only by helping his team remain one of the top in the country, but by taking advantage of academic and networking opportunities. After getting his master’s degree, he decided to pursue a career outside of basketball instead of play overseas — which has ultimately led to him working for the leader in sports medicine products.
When he was 13, Wesley Barnett went to his first Junior Olympics in Olympic Lifting after a few months of training with no elite coaching, and came away with three trophies and three gold medals. He was hooked, and continued in the sport for 17 years, eventually finding himself at the 1992 and 1996 Olympics. Putting off retirement because he was without a plan, he unfortunately didn’t make the 2000 Olympic Team after dealing with cancer. However, he was hired by the United States Olympic Committee to work on plans to help athletes achieve success on the field of play, which eventually led to his passion of finding clean supplements in an under regulated, and often contaminated, industry.
A Georgia Southern University football walk on, Austin had the rug ripped out from under him when he arrived at a meeting after his third season, only to hear that he was being cut from the team. Devastated, he threw himself into working on campus with other sport programs, as well as eventually interning for the PGA Tour. Once he realized it was time to move on from athletics as a career, he went back to finish his degree, worked his way up in Chick-fil-A, met his wife, and landed in insurance.
Anja Garcia decided to finish her journey as an elite gymnast during her junior year at UC Berkeley. However, she found her passion for teaching fitness to others after joining classes in the rec center. Teaching and filming for Nordictrack, Sweatfactor and Daily Burn continue to be her outlet for the difficulties she faces during her night shifts as a nurse in the pediatric ICU. And as she is about to embark on the journey of motherhood, she emphasizes the importance of what she has learned about fitness and nutrition, as well as how she intends to model these lessons to her future children.
After a severe injury brought Megan’s dreams of going to the Olympics and becoming a professional swimmer to a devastating halt, she went through some very difficult years that included multiple surgeries on both shoulders. Yet, an end to an athletic career made way for other passions, and a much stronger person.
Rebecca Soni shocked everyone when she won a gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, beating the “Queen of Breaststroke” Leisel Jones in the 200-meter race. This set expectations extremely high as the champion returned to London in 2012. The pressure was on to win gold, set records… or be seen as a failure. This changed her relationship with the sport she used to love, and ultimately affected her self-worth moving forward.
Born and raised in Belarus, Raman Stsepaniuk began his athletic career as a young gymnast for the Soviet government. After realizing gymnastics wasn’t for him and taking a short hiatus from sports, his coach reached out about a spot on the national team for sport acrobatics. He was hooked. After college, he fled Belarus for the Russian circus, which eventually led him to the U.S. with the Ringling Bros. After his contract concluded, he decided to remain in the United States and sought work in Las Vegas, eventually landing with Dragone entertainment, where he still performs to this day.
Anna and Scott have both moved on from successful careers in tennis – yet their transitions were vastly different. Anna had a fulfilling career at the University of Portland as a student-athlete, knew she would be moving on from the sport after graduation, and had a support system that always emphasized balance. Scott grew up in a household with two tennis pros, was fully immersed in the sport from a young age, and always knew he would go professional as well. However, he had to make a transition earlier than expected after a career-ending injury.
After a successful swimming career that took her to the podium at the Beijing Olympics, Caroline decided she wanted to be more than an athlete. However, upon her retirement, a slough of repressed emotions bubbled to the surface, debilitating her mentally and physically. Through this difficult time, she learned much about herself, as well as the importance of providing others with the tools to deal with these issues throughout their careers and beyond.
Matthew Murawski felt lost for a long time after he finished collegiate rowing. However, he learned that if he fell back on the sport, it would lead to where he was supposed to go. His connections through rowing eventually led him to his wife and a career that he loves.
Kelley Koski made her dream of becoming a professional dancer come true in Los Angeles. However, the dream isn’t always what you expect. After highs and lows in an industry that focuses more and more on sex appeal rather than athleticism, she decided it was time to move on to other projects that help athletes – from life coaching to co-founding an app that spotlights grassroots sports teams and amateur athletes.
Since he was a young boy, Tom Helpenstell knew he wanted to follow in his father's footsteps as an orthopaedic surgeon. Knowing this, he chose a Division III school to compete in diving so he could focus on getting into medical school, even though he was offered a spot in a Division I program. In his transition out of diving, he used triathlons and other outdoor endurance activities as an outlet in med school - which carries forward today as an Ironman athlete and avid mountain climber.
Britta Llewellyn, and Austria native, moved to the United States after high school with $100 in her pocket to train for a sport she barely knew how to do. Within five years she was one of the top five water ski jumpers in the world, followed 10 European titles in a row and two world championships. Having been sponsored by Red Bull, she transitioned into managing their athlete performance department with a goal of helping other athletes become the best they can be.
Miko Fogarty’s childhood was filled with study and competition of ballet all over the world. At nine, she performed in her first international competition. At 12, she was featured in the documentary First Position, and at 17 was hired at the Birmingham Royal Ballet. However, she soon realized this career was not what she envisioned, began to struggle with body image, and decided to pursue other interests.
Brenda Villa is the most decorated water polo player in the US. She has won everything before retiring in 2012. Originally from East Los Angeles, she moved to the Bay Area in 2010, two years before retiring. She started coaching at a private all-girl high school where she now works full-time as a water polo and swim coach and in the Equity and Inclusion department. She is also involved in multiple volunteering positions locally and nationally.
Michelle Pearson is from Bermuda but grew up in Australia and the USA. She played a lot of sports growing up and eventually settled with rowing in her teens. She rowed for Harvard for four years, for Oxford for 2 and then competed in the 2016 Rio Olympics. She retired after Rio and started working as a consultant for Ernst and Young. In 2018, she started rowing again with the goal of competing in Tokyo.
Malia Metella retired in 2009 following an eight-year career at the highest level and an Olympic silver medal. She attended journalism before working as an independent for a few years. She lost her main client and couldn’t find any work. She was forced to return to live with her mother in Toulouse. For two years, she struggled before finally being hired by the Allianz group. She worked in many positions at Allianz before discovering what she likes. Malia is also very involved in the sport nonprofit world and very close to her family.
California-born and successful Softball player Monica Lebron decided to pursue a career in college Athletics. With careful planning, hard work and determination, she made a smooth and successful transition from Collegiate Softball to College Athletics Administration.
Peter “Poby” Pobyjpicz is a freelance commercial photographer. Poby was born in Germany from Russian parents who lived in West Germany after WW2. Poby played water polo with the German National Team and trained for the 1980s Olympics but did not attend because of the boycott.
Rebekah is a plant-based chef located in Venice Beach, California. She is originally from San Francisco. She practiced Speed Swimming, Synchronized Swimming and Water Polo from a young age through university competing at National and collegiate level. She became a vegan in 2011 and a chef shortly after that.
Anne Graf was a college lacrosse player. She graduated from Yale University in 2003 and then graduated from law school four years later. She worked as lawyer In Florida for several years before making a career change to PR and moving to Los Angeles. Anne had a pretty difficult transition and candidly admits she is still soul-searching for a meaningful passion after Lacrosse.
Claire grew up with her parents, her younger brother and her dog in Los Gatos, a small town in the Silicon Valley. She competed in synchronized swimming for many years before retiring in 2016 after not being selected for the 2016 Olympics. She now lives in Nashville, Tennessee where she attends Vanderbilt University and study biology.