What to do with a degree? Life after university for Laurier athletes

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Photo by Will Huang

Lives of student athletes can be quite misconstrued in society.

This is especially the case when it comes to the goals they have, their aspirations and what lies ahead of them. When you consider the type of commitment they put into their respective sports and teams, it can be quite hard to imagine that some student-athletes may have dreams and aspirations outside of professional sports.

It can be easy for one to assume that, since one performed well in university athletics, they will logically progress on to the next platform or league.

This does not always happen to be the case though. All student athletes, even the ones who perform at the highest of levels, have other passions and other goals. They may even see a different path for themselves after graduation.

After making the choice not to go professional following a legendary five-year career on the women’s basketball team, superstar Golden Hawk

Hannah Morrison has turned her aim towards the Ontario Provincial Police force.

“I definitely had different goals. I never really thought about playing pro until this past year just because I have never thought of myself as being good enough to ever play in the pro leagues, but I kind of talked to my coach a little bit about it,” Morrison said.

“Since I do have my British passport, I’d have the opportunity to play in England. So I did kind of take a look at that but for me it was never really an option until this year.”

“I didn’t really have a goal of ‘oh just using my degree to carry out the rest of my life’. It was more so, ‘whichever takes charge first, I’ll take that,’ so in this case that’s football, [it] came knocking right away, so I took that,” Boateng said.

Having involved herself in multiple different types of competition such as powerlifting, CrossFit, and even soccer this past summer, Morrison was never one to limit herself to one sport. On the other hand, life after basketball will be different for her.

“When you put so much time and effort to one thing it definitely makes it tough when it comes to an end. I would like to stay involved in basketball somehow.”

With decisions still to be made, Morrison is taking it day by day, but you can expect her to find the next thing that fuels her competitive fire sooner rather than later.

On the other side of things, there are also the athletes who may not have initially planned to be a professional athlete.

They may have come across the idea by circumstance, but they had the belief and ability in them to make it happen, finding a balance in preparation and planning for various possible outcomes.

Former Laurier Golden Hawk, Kwaku Boateng, now defensive end for the Edmonton Eskimos in the CFL, did exactly that.

Putting emphasis on the student portion of ‘student athlete’, Boateng was able to excel both on and off the field during his time in the purple and gold. He has been blessed with the ability to balance and prioritize to his own personal benefit.

“While you’re in school, you have to be a lot more disciplined when you’re a student athlete, just because you’re trying to take care of two different aspirations. My job was to perform in both aspects, athletically and academically,” Boateng said.

While there is a case to be made with some student-athletes not having as much of a focus on a backup plan — some may tell you there is no need for one —Boateng’s thinking was quite a bit different as far as the way he went about his business.

“I didn’t really have a goal of ‘oh just using my degree to carry out the rest of my life’. It was more so, ‘whichever takes charge first, I’ll take that,’ so in this case that’s football, [it] came knocking right away, so I took that,” Boateng said.

“I could always go and become a financial analyst or become a financial advisor with my degree, I can do that any age.

When it comes to football and playing professional sports in general, you’re really limited in the amount of years that you could play,” he said.

“I didn’t go into school with the plan of using football to be my career but I definitely felt like I could make that balance happen.”

While the choice seemed to be obvious for Boateng when the time came for that decision, it may not be for others.

With time to spare once school is done, life turns out to be different for these student athletes once they graduate, just like the paths they eventually choose to take.

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