Was I at a dead end, or a crossroads?

Abi Evans has recently joined LAPS as  Partnership Manager. Abi is a winger for Saracens and Scotland, and you can reach Abi on Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. See Abi’s LAPS bio here.

My answer to “what do you want to be when you grow up?” has always been “an athlete”.  Younger me didn’t know what that sport would be. At different stages I thought it could be swimming. At other times, athletics, or netball. At the age of 17, after years of playing multiple sports at one time, I decided to put all my eggs in one basket and commit to rugby. Since that day, I’ve gone on to represent Scotland through the age groups. Under-19 Sevens, Under-20s and finally gaining my first full Scotland cap in 2015 at the age of 18. Since then, I’ve enjoyed tours all over the world and made some of my closest friends. It’s been eight years since my international debut and I still have big dreams in rugby, and will be targeting the 2025 Rugby World Cup.

In December 2022 I found myself at a crossroads, or as I saw it at the time, a dead end. December brought the excitement of Christmas but also the end of my professional contract with the Scottish Rugby Union. As a result I was forced into thinking about my future and an element of that being outside of the rugby world.

I still planned to continue playing rugby, having just signed in August for reigning Premier 15s champions, Saracens. How my life as a rugby player looked for me day to day had changed because I needed an income and ultimately a career.

The main issue with trying to find work as a semi-professional athlete is finding a workplace that understands the needs and time commitment that comes with the sport. I’ve been so lucky to find that balance.

A few weeks of job searching and a couple of interviews later, I started my new role as Partnerships Manager here at LAPS.  They certainly practise what they preach, allowing me to start my new career whilst still pursuing my rugby dreams.

One thing I didn’t anticipate was the stress that comes with transitioning from pro-athlete and settling into working life. So here are my tips for dealing with that stress:

  • Dial in basics – Can you prioritise sleep, nutrition and getting enough daylight during this period? Can you dedicate a place in the house to be your workspace and keep this tidy and uncluttered? These simple things can make a big difference in managing your stress levels during this time.
  • Ask for help – The one I wish I was better at! You may feel like you should know everything there is to know about your new role already. But try to accept that there is a period of learning and finding your feet going on here. Ask questions, ask for help and it will start to come together.
  • Make time for things you love – These are likely already things and hobbies you find are relaxing or a bit of an escape. For me, it’s getting outside and going for a walk with a podcast in my ears. I’m finding my rugby and gym sessions are a stress reliever at the moment too. For you, it could be anything that allows you to switch off and not think about work.

What are your top tips for balancing work and life?