It’s Go Time! Life After the Lights Begins Today.

My name is Jake Gasaway. That’s me in the above photo, the little face in the middle of an empty Waldo Stadium. If you’ve ever sat in an empty stadium as an athlete, or even if you weren’t an athlete, you’ve likely dreamt about playing in front of a huge crowd that cheered you on for the game winner. What most of us never gave much thought to was that one day we’d actually have to go to work and the cheers would come to an end. Is that a sad thought? Maybe, but it’s reality.

As an athlete you know all too well about reality. You win some. You lose some. You learn. You work your ass off and keep moving forward. There’s no time to rest on that last victory or sulk about the most recent defeat. That’s one of the best recipes for life one could concoct.

Until I was 23 years old, my entire life revolved around athletics. I was fortunate enough to earn a D-1 football scholarship (less than 2% of high school football players earn an athletic scholarship of any kind) to Western Michigan University

Western at Michigan - 2002
Western at Michigan – 2002

where my athletic compulsion continued, and perhaps even worsened. Then one day my senior year ended and it was all over, just like that. In 2002, the lights went out in the stadium for good.

Even though I was a Senior Captain and Center on the football team, I had a decent idea I wouldn’t go pro since only 1.6% of college football players get drafted; not to mention I was undersized and slow as hell. Luckily I focused enough on my schoolwork and preparing between games, practices and workouts to secure a great job right out of school with a Fortune 500 company (Philip Morris U.S.A.). Since joining Philip Morris, earning my M.B.A and co-founding a startup, I’ve acquired a real education about corporate America, startups, and now fatherhood.

I’m a long way from the locker room and wish I knew then what I know now. Don’t get me wrong, I wish we could all play forever, but the fact is, no matter which level you make it to in athletics, it will come to an end. Thinking about that a little bit can go a long way, which is the purpose of this blog. I want to share my unique perspective as a former athlete that has been successful in corporate America as well as my own startup (Stitch Labs) in Silicon Valley. I’m still new to this fatherhood thing, but hopefully I’ll do ok there, too. What makes me qualified to write about this topic? Subscribe and hopefully you’ll find out soon enough.

Everyone should have a resource to be able to ask questions about how life will change when athletics are in the rear view, and the web makes it easier than ever to do so. Please join the discussion as I talk about everything from the early, and sometimes privileged life of an athlete, to getting that first job, to knowing when to take a risk. I don’t know it all, so feel free to jump in and help me out….even if that means babysitting. This kid is tougher than football ever was. 🙂

Life is pretty busy at the moment with a startup, marriage and fatherhood, so I won’t be writing every day, but I’m committing to this because I see a need in the athletic community for perspective about life after the lights. If there’s something you’re interested in reading about, feel free to leave a comment below and I’ll get back at you. Thanks for reading this first post and I hope to see you again on the interwebs.

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22 thoughts on “It’s Go Time! Life After the Lights Begins Today.

  1. Great job Jake. Makes me proud to see a former student excel. I will share this with our Edison students to show that they can do anything they set their mind on — just like you.
    Nancy Babbitt Batliner

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  2. I am proud of you and I love u very much Cuz!!! Being a father and a husband is harder than any position in football… I promise , but I know will will be great!!! Luv u and hope to see u soon

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  3. Hey Jake! What a great read – I look forward to keeping up with your unique perspectives as a college athlete. Although, I was not talented enough to participate in college athletics, I know I find myself reflecting quite a bit on my own athletic experiences as my children are old enough to start forming their own pathways down that same road. I can’t agree more with your comments about parenting and how on some days, kids can be the most challenging competitor we have ever encountered.

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  4. As a mom of a very talented and athletic son this was a great read, Jake! We stress the importance of education in our house more than athletics. You never know when it will end. We also stress the importance of being involved. It will help you in ways you may never know. I laughed at the your statement “priveledged life” that’s is 100% true!!! Great job! And Congrats daddy

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  5. A truth that needs to be discussed. Will avoid possible disappointment at the end a great athletic career. Focus on the gold ring after four years of academic success. Great read, congrats!

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  6. Very cool Jake I enjoyed reading your article very much and I’m sure you will be a wonderful father as well as a great athlete very proud of you

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