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 our first male interview – Stephen Huss.
Life Beyond Elite Sport Athlete Interview – Stephen Huss
National Coach for Women’s Tennis at the United States Tennis Association.
Share with us a bit about your self (i.e. your background, where you grew up and where you are now).
Born in Bendigo, Victoria (Australia). Both my parents are Swedish and moved to Australia before I was born. I grew up in Menzies Creek, an outer eastern suburb of Melbourne, Victoria. Played tennis at Emerald Tennis Centre and then Scoresby Tennis Centre. Had 3 great coaches: first Bill Sale (ages 5-9), then Greg Duns (10-17), and finally Peter (17-35). Went to play US College Tennis at Auburn University in Alabama 1996-2000 with Coach Eric Shore. Got a degree in Exercise Science with a minor in Psychology. Pretty successful in both singles and doubles in College becoming an All American in both.
What age did you finish playing tennis?
I will always play tennis :). But competitively I finished playing tennis at the US Open in 2011.
Did you choose to retire or not?
Yes I made that choice to retire.
What was your best sporting performance?
Winning the Wimbledon Gentlemen’s Double title in 2005 with Wesley Moodie.
What are you most proud of doing in your life up until now?
Creating our family with my wife Milagros. Our daughter Kensi who is 9 and our son Noah who is 7. Nothing comes even close to that.
Who are the mentors that have inspired you and what important lessons have you learnt from them?
There are so many people I have taken lessons from over my lifetime but at the top of the list are firstly my parents, who modelled incredible character and integrity. In my playing career, Peter who taught me about professionalism, work ethic and passion. In my coaching career Jose Higueras, who continues to teach me how to take an incredible sport with complex skills and concepts, and make it more simple to the players we are helping.
Has there ever been times you have questioned yourself and your purpose? If so, what got you through?
I think it is natural for this to happen and it has certainly happened to me. My parents instilled in me to become independent and that has served me well. Time does not stand still so you better get up and do something. Life evolves so keep at it and good things will happen.
Is there a significant quote or saying by which you live your life by? If so, what is it?
Some of the best advice I ever got was from Peter, “Surround yourself with positive people”. It is imperative to have people around you that are happy to see you have success, and continually encourage you in that direction.
What was the most important lesson you learnt from being an athlete?
Honestly there are so many. Sport is a fantastic avenue to create and develop character. There are so many places you get to where the road divides and you choose your own path. Resilience, Perseverance, and Integrity are among the biggest ones.
What do you wish you did more of when you were competing?
I wish I had invested in myself more during my professional career. To have my coach with me more often would have been beneficial to improving my game and possibly having more good results over the longer term.
What are your top 3 tips for making the transition to life beyond elite sport?
I feel lucky in the fact that my daughter was born earlier in the year I retired from professional tennis. So I had a wife and family to be with immediately. Having a good support structure with people around you when you stop is very helpful. Also, during your sporting career have something you are doing on the side. These days with all the online school or courses you can take it should be fun and helpful to upskill or educate yourself in areas you are interested in. I am so glad I had my degree behind me when I finished tennis as that allowed me to get my first coaching job in college tennis. Thirdly, utilize and use your contacts that you made along the way in your professional sport journey. People know and value athletes because of the desire and commitment to their sports. They can open doors for you.
Over to You…
I hope this has given you some insight from a past athlete who competed in professional sport and has made the transition process. Thanks Stephen for sharing your insights and congratulations on where you are in your life today! And thanks also to Peter who made this interview possible.
If you have any questions, please let me know or leave a comment below.