I have started to interview past athletes to discover their insights on Life Beyond Elite Sport. In particular, they are being asked how they made the transitions beyond elite sport. Today, we are lucky enough to have Sally Greer.
Life Beyond Elite Sport Interview – Sally Greer
I am currently working as an addiction and mental health counselor for athletes and the general population. I have my own business called 1 On 1Addictions Counselling for Athletes. My website is www.athleteaddictions.com and I can be found on Facebook at 1 On 1 Addictions Counselling for Athletes.
Share with us a bit about your self (i.e. your background, where you grew up and where you are now).
I am Cuban born, my parents and grandparents were also from Cuba. Spanish was my first language. We left Cuba when I was 3 years old, the year just before Castro took over, in 1958. We moved to Miami, Florida. I grew up there and played one year of college tennis for the University of Miami. I had the best winning percentage 28-2, and the record still stands today. In 1973 I began playing professional tennis on the Virginia Slims Tour. I played all the grand slams, Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open. I played on the tour for 5 years.
What age did you finish playing tennis?
I stopped playing professionally in 1978, I was 23 years old.
Did you choose to retire or not?
I chose to retire because I had promised myself before I went on the tour if I ever played a tournament match where I did not give 100% I would stop. I felt burned out, it was time.
What was your best sporting performance?
Sally’s best performance was defeating Francoise Durr, the French number one player, in the first round of the US Open in 1973. She also is proud of the several satellite tournaments she won on differing surfaces such as grass, indoor carpet, hard and clay.
What are you most proud of doing in your life up until now?
I am in recovery for alcohol and drug addiction. I have been in recovery for 14 ½ years. This helps me when working with addicts, alcoholics and people with mental health issues.
Who are the mentors that have inspired you and what important lessons have you learnt from them?
I’ve had several mentors, my first coach, professors, but the one that comes to mind is a doctor who has many years of recovery and is an addictionologist who guided me through some very tough decisions when I was just starting my career as a counselor.
Has there ever been times you have questioned yourself and your purpose? If so, what got you through?
Sure, I think everyone has. I questioned mine when I was younger, but not anymore. What has gotten me to this point is that I believe and trust that I am doing God’s will in helping others.
Is there a significant quote or saying by which you live your life by? If so, what is it?
There is a quote I like that is very long. It’s an excerpt from a speech, “Citizenship In A Republic” delivered at The Sorbonne Paris, France on April 23, 1910, by Theodore Roosevelt. The title is, “The Man in the Arena.”
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strive valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again. Because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasm, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory no defeat.”
What was the most important lesson you learnt from being an athlete?
Discipline and that there will always be a next time.
What do you wish you did more of when you were competing?
I wish I had had more confidence, courage, and maturity. I also wish I would have prepared for retirement.
What are your top 3 tips for making the transition to life beyond elite sport?
My transition out of tennis into “real” life was traumatic even though it was my decision not an injury that ended it for me. I would say surround yourself with a good support system people who love you and care about your welfare not just about you as an athlete. Secondly, I would write down other passions and interests that you might like to pursue after life in sport. Know that your career as an athlete will end while you’re young, there is much life yet ahead. Thirdly, ask other retired athletes how they handled their retirement, everyone is different.
Over to You…
I hope this has given you some insight from a past athlete who competed in elite sport and has made the transition process. Thanks Sally for sharing your insights and congratulations on where you are in your life today! You can connect with Sally here.
If you have any questions, please let me know or leave a comment below.