Always an Athlete (Paperback)

Always an Athlete By Jenne Blackburn Cover Image

Always an Athlete (Paperback)

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Always an Athlete is a comprehensive study of the ways in which athletes climb what author Jenné Blackburn terms “The Mountain”—the journey from youth sports, through high school and college sports, to, finally, professional, and Olympic sports. This steady climb and success over a long period of time, however, sets up athletes for an inevitable fall off “The Cliff” upon their retirement from competition.
            To help athletes in transition, Blackburn identifies “Three Pillars of the Cliff”—Mental Health, Physical Health, and Athlete Identity—and describes the issues that athletes have in each of these areas after they retire. After training, sacrificing, and devoting years, even decades, to a sport, athletes at every level will struggle within these three pillars. Blackburn believes that athletes must evolve from a competition mindset to a wellness mindset and match their new lifestyles in order to soften this transition into the real world. Fortunately, the “Inner Athlete” honed over many years of training and competition can show up as a “Parachute” as athletics recede, and other priorities rise to the forefront of their new life.
            Ultimately, Blackburn proposes cycling as a foundation and universal tool to help retired athletes resolve a lingering loss of identity, mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression, and complications due to unchanged diet and exercise habits when they transition out of a performance-purposed existence. She advocates for fun community bike rides adjacent to sporting events and franchises to bring sports communities together around this critical yet overlooked topic for all athletes: life after competitive sports.
 
Jenné Blackburn is a graduate of Baylor University, where she competed on the Women’s Indoor Volleyball team. She was awarded the Student Life Achievement Award, Baylor’s highest honor for a student, for her work pioneering programs in the sports department and other international initiatives. Her research interests include women’s empowerment and the intersection of sport and community development.
 
Product Details ISBN: 9781621908593
ISBN-10: 1621908593
Publisher: Univ Tennessee Press
Publication Date: October 13th, 2023
Pages: 240
Language: English
In Always an Athlete Jenne Blackburn analyzes the challenges of transitioning from elite competitive sport to a healthy lifestyle. What most consider a counterintuitive concept for body-focused athletes, Blackburn correctly identifies the very real struggles that face accomplished performers upon retirement from competition. Read any biography of a college or professional athlete and you will find a story filled with years of focused training: most were introduced to their sport when there were in elementary school and started specializing in middle school; most bore the weight of a family that was equally committed to their success in sport; and, most made their college and career choices based primarily on the institution’s reputation for excelling in their sport. Blackburn details how this twenty-year, single-minded focus inevitably leads to a loss of personal identity once the scoreboard goes dark. She also provides pragmatic strategies for transitioning to new ways of being an athlete and developing healthy life habits. —Kathy DeBoer, Former Athlete, Coach, Executive Director of the American Volleyball Coaches Association, and Author of Gender Competition: How Men and Women Compete at Work and Play Differently

Always an Athlete by Jenne Blackburn is a must read for all athletes and coaches, because Jenne has done a fantastic job of breaking down the anxiety surrounding that transition from active athlete to retirement and how to better equip ourselves for this moment. Here is the thing . . . as athletes, we know retirement is eventually coming. We worry about a loss of identity, yet, we don’t often know how to deal with that loss of identity and community. Teammates feel like family, and Always an Athlete helps you build a parallel community that also inspires confidence and courage. Most important, Jenne offers fabulous guidance and strategies for athletes and coaches alike, so that BEFORE we hit our “cliff moment” of transitioning out of our sport, the apprehension is replaced by action, knowing sports has given us a platform to soar. —Julie Foudy, former captain of USA Women’s Soccer Team, 2x Olympic Gold Medalist, 2x World Cup Champion, and an analyst and reporter with ESPN and Warner Bros Discovery
  For over 50 yrs. I have witnessed firsthand athletes’ transition out of their sport. This experience is a massively complicated challenge for many athletes. A whirlwind of change all at once, where mental health, physical health, and athlete identity are disrupted. In Jenne Blackburn’s book, the reader will relive the athlete’s journey “up the mountain” (youth to professional sports) to the inevitable “cliff” (retirement). Jenne highlights the drivers that impact mental health, physical health, and athletes’ loss of identity. More importantly, she provides us with greater awareness AND solutions to better prepare them for the end of their career. This book is an excellent blueprint for athletes, sports parents, coaches, administrators, and communities to align education and events around athlete identity, mental health, and physical health. In completing this read, you will gain insight, the urgency to act, and articulated solutions for your retiring athletes. Always an Athlete® will provide impactful research insight, education curriculum, and community-building activities, better preparing athletes for life after sport. Jenne inspires all of us to do more in preparing athletes for a thriving and celebratory experience in sports and beyond. Her book gives us the roadmap, the tools to traverse the mountain of challenges, and a mindset to leap off that cliff of retirement with a parachute of solutions for a thriving life after sport. —Sue Enquist, Former UCLA Softball Coach, 11-Time National Champion, and 6-time Hall of Fame