After the Play Ends: Miranda McNalley


Anya Olson, Staff Writer

Being surrounded by friends in college makes for a supportive, fun, and friendly atmosphere. For Miranda McNalley, graduating from Piedmont University and leaving that environment behind was her biggest struggle. 

“Being in the college atmosphere, you’re surrounded by your team and your friends all the time,” said McNalley. “After graduation, staying in contact with them was hard because they aren’t a hundred yards away anymore.” 

Miranda McNalley graduated from Piedmont University in 2021. Now, three years later, she struggles the most with the loss of the team dynamic and the social atmosphere of her teammates and friends. 

“It’s hard knowing that my closest friends are hours away instead of minutes away,” said McNalley. “So, I’ve had to find other ways to find the team dynamic and get comfortable in a new community.” 

In late 2021, McNalley began playing in an adult co-ed league where she gets to compete competitively one night a week.

“It’s not the same as the college atmosphere, but it’s allowed me to get out and stay close to the sport,” said McNalley. “Unfortunately, you can’t play soccer all your life, so finding more hobbies and passions has been important to me too.” 

McNalley played soccer from the young age of 7. After being surrounded by a team for so many years, it is a challenging feat to try and fill the social void. But, McNalley offers advice to current athletes or those going through similar struggles.

“Find something that you’re passionate about similar to how you were passionate about your sport,” said McNalley. “Be open to going outside your comfort zone and meeting new people.” 

Finding a new passion or hobby creates a positive outlet for retired collegiate athletes. For McNalley, her new passion lies in her future career field.  

“I’m pursuing a career in Operations Administration for a soccer team,” said McNalley. “I want to be a team administrator in charge of game day operations and other management that helps the game run smoothly.” 

McNalley’s passion has allowed her to stay close to her sport in many ways. While NcNalley is pursuing a career in sports, she acknowledges that many retired athletes may not be. She offers advice for those athletes struggling with missing their team dynamic. 

“I love keeping up with my favorite teams on social media,” said McNalley. “You can watch your teams in person or at an event with other fans which helps you stay close to the community.” 

Although McNalley isn’t officially a part of a team anymore, she is still connected to the environment. 

Losing the team dynamic and trying to fill that social void is a struggle for many graduated student-athletes. Finding new ways to stay connected to your sport may make the transition easier. 

 To hear Miranda McNalley’s full Zoom series episode on losing the team dynamic and finding new ways to stay close to your sport click the link here



About the author

Anya Olson is a senior mass communications student in her final semester. For her capstone she has created a Zoom series titled “After the Play Ends: Hanging the Cleats up”. Every week Anya interviews retired athletes and discusses the struggles they’ve faced after their sport ends. “After the Play Ends” is intended to be used as a resource for current athletes who may be struggling with similar topics. For full Zoom series episodes visit this link. For more information on Anya’s capstone check out her capstone Instagram @anyamariemedia