Post from Gints Antrops, Basketball player for Olimpia Matera
At the age of 13 I was the only boy in our aerobics dancing crew. There weren’t many things you could do in my town in Latvia in 1995. I was just having fun with the girls from my school and, step by step, we managed to get 3rd place in the country.
After that, everyone in town knew I was dancing because after winning the 3rd place medal we performed in front of the whole school. My friend made a joke about me, laughing because I was the weird boy with long blonde hair that dances with girls and makes strange moves, but it didn’t upset me. I was alright with who I was.
At the same time my cousin started basketball courses. In a very short time, he became much better at basketball than I was and as he was 2 years younger than me, I naturally took it personally. I wanted to be better than anybody I knew.
Very soon I had a new dream – I wanted to be a basketball player.
So I went straight for it and started with basketball courses. 5 years into my Basketball ‘career’, I managed to become a very good player for my age.
At the age of 18 I was almost 2 metres tall. I felt I was fairly good at basketball and that I needed a chance to prove myself to the world and test my abilities. Latvia is a small country so I was looking for some other possibilities.
The day came quickly and I moved to Italy. I had my chance to show myself to someone.
It felt like a dream but at the same time, I was alone in a foreign country with no friends and no family. I had to learn things the hard way. Everything about life, how to cook and clean, a new language, it felt like I had to begin everything all over again. It may seem like the impossible task for some people but it was never really too hard for me. I was ambitious, full of energy and willing to prove myself.
It was my responsibility to succeed so I kept going. My mindset was:
I had the feeling that I was on the right path so how could I stop? It was never an option.
In careers, there are always highs and lows, good and bad moments. But what about when the bad moments impact the good moments? The first thing that comes into my mind is to accept the bad moments, the losses, negativity and anything that makes you feel uncomfortable. This is part of our life and career as athletes. We often live in the struggle to succeed one day and then go again. We set new goals, new ambitions, and everything starts over again.
The real winners in this battle are the ones that accept bad moments exist and are part of our growth as human beings. Bad moments are the perfect contrast to good moments so we can enjoy them even better. Personally, I feel like I am very aware of this and I do not let my bad moments influence my life more than necessary.
After the rollercoaster between good, bad, and great years of basketball I can now sit down and say to myself that it is ok to quit now. I have clocked up 20 years of professional & semi-professional basketball.
I have been a team member and a team leader. I have been champion of Latvia, most recently in 2017. I have shared my knowledge and I’ve taught skills and moves to my teammates, not because I was asked to but because I enjoyed sharing.
At the end of this journey, I feel like I am a better man. I feel I have learned a lot of things about life.
Every day we can try to change the world around us, but after all we realise that it was the world that has changed us. It shapes each one of us in something different because of our experiences.
I tried to quit basketball for the last 4/5 years but I was stuck with the question of what next in my career and my life. I was convinced there was no life after Basketball. Now I am finally looking to quit basketball for real and move forward. I will be 40 next year and that’s a pretty long career! Even though I am still physically and athletically fit, the hurt my body goes through tells me this is it.
So what’s the ideal career for me?
I imagine my next step would be a managerial area of work. I feel I may be suited to different types of sport related jobs where I could feel more like a fish in water. Where the company’s values and principles align with mine; teamwork, targets, goals and communication. Everything that makes a great team successful. I am a good leader when I have to lead. I’m an active listener as well and I enjoy communicating with different people.
I’m about to finish a course in project management as a first attempt to step out of sports and prepare myself for something different. I didn’t manage to go to university but I don’t want this to derail my ambitions for the future.
I am still not sure what I can do outside of Basketball. I don’t have anything to compare to. Sport is a different world. What I am looking for is to find meaning in any job or opportunity that I might face.
Basketball is a very dynamic sport. You must think fast, react fast, take decisions in a fraction of a second, be strong mentally, be responsible for yourself and for your teammates. It is considered one of the most complete sports and being a player is not only about the physical game, but also about communication, representation, giving interviews and much more. Therefore I am confident I have a lot of transferable skills that I could bring to a future career.
I have thought a lot over the last couple of years about what company could want a man/woman in their 30’s, without any experience outside of professional sport. Elite athletes are very sharp minded people. Performing is in their DNA.
I am incredibly happy to see a place like LAPS exists, one that can help me and others. To help us to connect to each other, help us with the transition phase and to share our experiences with one another. While preparing myself psychologically for this transition, from time to time I use LAPS to read something and to go through the job opportunities. I also, have spent hours and hours on other job websites.
My season ends in 1 month. Then “real life” will be banging on my door. I feel that now I’m ready to answer.
I am looking to quit Basketball and would appreciate anyone who could guide me to the “other side”, share some experience, thoughts, good wishes and so on! Any help is much appreciated.
If you want to connect with Gints Antrops or you have a similar story you can connect below:
LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/gints-antrops
Twitter – https://twitter.com/gintsy
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/gints/
LAPS Members can discuss Gints’ post on our Community page.