When one door closes, another opens

UW-Eau Claire senior-athletes share stories of “free-time” after their four years of eligibility

Story by Trent Tetzlaff, Staff Writer

“I firmly believe in life that you will get out of it as much as you invest into it,” Sean Graham, a senior at UW-Eau Claire and four-year linebacker, said. “I made many sacrifices for football in my career and I believe I exhibited characteristics of a player that has a true passion for this game.”

Sports mean a lot more to collegiate student-athletes than some may think, especially at the Division III level. Graham said being around teammates day in and day out is a pretty special thing.

Seniors Joe Meier, Olivia Aschenbrenner and Graham are a few of many Eau Claire seniors who have demonstrated success as college athletes through their respective sports, and now share what life is like after their seasons end.

Aschenbrenner, a four-year gymnast at UW-Eau Claire, demonstrated hard work by making it to nationals three out of her four years. Although she said she will miss competing, she has planned to keep up her workout routines in her free time.

“I still plan on working out, so I’ll probably just fill in the time I would normally be practicing with my own individual workout routine,” Aschenbrenner said. “I’ll also probably use that time to look into what I’ll be doing post-graduation next fall.”

Using the extra time to plan for the future was a common theme among athletes. Meier, a senior currently in his last season with the Blugold tennis program, said he will use his extra time to keep up with his training and work.

“After the season ends, I will be starting my training for summer races with the first one being a triathlon in June,” Meier said. “Along with this I will be finishing my undergrad portfolio, studying for my certified strength and conditioning specialist exam.”

Meier also said he will continue to play in a few tennis tournaments over the summer for fun, and coaching is something he will look into starting this summer by giving kids tennis lessons.

However, some seniors enjoy the separation from sports in a different way than most college athletes.

Graham said he fills his time away from football by working out, but also by hanging out with friends and relaxing.

“I have some extra time on my hands now but I have continued to exercise quite a bit,” Graham said. “I have more time to spend with friends and family, and my Netflix account has been used much more frequently as well, probably excessively at that.”

However, some student-athletes can’t just cut themselves off from the program without saying goodbye. Take Aschenbrenner for example.

Aschenbrenner said she will miss all of her teammates. She also said she will be stopping by the gym every now and then to see how the team is doing.

Graham said he thinks the time with his team went by quick. He said he may never be a part of something as special ever again.

“Going to war with a group of guys that you love and care for no matter your differences as individuals is amazing,” Graham said. “It will be close to impossible to duplicate again in life.”