Inspiring Interview of the Month

What’s up everybody??  Today I bring you the newest thing at OnceAnAthlete, AlwaysAnAthlete and that is…drumroll please….  an inspiring interview!!  Yes, that’s right!  I’m out there finding other awesome people who are just as excited about fitness and health (physical, emotional, mental) as I am.  Once every month or so, I’ll interview one of these awesome people and post their answers for you awesome peeps to read.  This week is a dear friend of my, Michelle Engberg.  Read her bio then the interview THEN go check out her blog!


Bio: Michelle has been a physical therapist for almost 2 years.  She discovered a love for writing during an internship in Niger, Africa when the team decided to keep a blog of their experiences in the desert providing physical therapy alongside missionaries in the capital city of Niamey. She has since started a blog called Everyday Blessings: Seeing God in the Big and Smalls Things so she will never forget the many blessings God provides when her heart and eyes are open to see them. Feel free to check it out at:

1a. What sport did you play? How long did you play for and what was the highest level you played at?

I played soccer from the time I was 4 years old until a few months ago. I was blessed to play at the division 1 collegiate level, earning a partial scholarship for my education.

1b. Without betraying your age if you don’t want to - how many years ago did you play your last “career” game?

Almost 5 years ago.

2. Where are you employed now and what is it that you do there?

I work at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare in St. Paul, MN as a pediatric physical therapist.

3. What was the most poignant lesson you learned from playing sports?

Playing sports provides ample opportunity for character development and lessons that can’t be taught in a classroom. One of the most poignant lessons I learned was the importance of putting the needs of your team above the needs of yourself. I was blessed with soccer talent, but earned a scholarship more because of my work ethic than because of my natural ability.

Most of my teammates were more talented than me, and even with my hard work, come game time, they were the better choice to compete in the game. It was frustrating at times to put in a lot of work with inconsistent return for my investment, but looking back it was an important part of my athletic experience. Even if my hard work didn’t earn the playing I hoped it would, I learned about discipline and leading by example.

In life, you are often more effective and productive in whatever you are doing, when you can encourage those around you to reach their potential and realize their talents.  Sometimes this happens through verbal affirmation and a positive attitude, but it also occurs when you work hard for the people around you, for the good of the team and not for your own personal gain.

4. What does your workout routine look like now? Is this different from how you trained as a college athlete?

At this time in my life, the routine part of workout is non-existent. In college, we had workouts scheduled for us, teammates to push us and workout with us outside of practice, and a goal to work towards to motivate us.

There was more time and flexibility with my schedule.

I currently work 4 “10” hour shifts (meaning I am usually at work for 10.5-12 hours depending on the day) with a 45-60 minute commute each way (or 2 hours if there is snow).  I have an active job where I am lifting patients, imitating exercises, and constantly searching for entertaining ways to motivate the kids I work with, leaving me pretty tired at the end of the workday. I try to get in workouts on my days off but due to 5 knee surgeries over the course of my soccer career, those exercises look different than they did in college.

I do a lot of yoga, riding a bike, elliptical, or going for long walks. I recently started the 100 consecutive push-up challenge, a 7 week training program. I find I am most motivated to work-out when I have something I’m working toward.

5.  Is it even possible to sustain an “in-season training mentality” now that you’re out of the college bubble and into the real world?  It can’t be done, can it?

I find it very difficult to maintain an “in-season training mentality” in the real world. When I was in college, soccer was an all-consuming part of my life. I trained like it was my job because essentially it was. Now with a full time job plus other responsibilities, the 2-hour training sessions just aren’t realistic.

6. What did your transition from your career as a student athlete to the “real world” look like?  What challenges did you face?  How did you work through them?

Initially after graduation, I went into training for a half marathon. I thought it would be a great way to stay in shape and motivated to workout. Unfortunately, a knee surgery interrupted that plan. I worked hard to rehab my knee and fell into a routine to make sure I gained back my strength.

Once that I happened, I joined rec soccer leagues to feed my competitive drive and tried to stay active. A marathon or half marathon was no longer an option if I wanted to preserve the cartilage left in my knee, so I started walking and doing yoga and was able to fall into a workout routine. Once grad school started, there was a gym on campus so I found time after class and before taking the train home to get in a workout.

It wasn’t until I started my “real job” that the workout routine became less routine. I’ve worked through it by not beating myself up about not working out, but celebrating when I do workout (and not with a big bowl of ice cream J)

Beside the change in my workout routine, one thing that struck me about my transition from student athlete to “real world” citizen was how much my life had revolved around soccer. Much of my identity was wrapped up who I was as a soccer player and when that ended, there was a bit of shift to figure out who I really was. I started to surrender that part of my identity to God, allowed him to remind me who I actually am, and watch God show up in amazing ways.

It’s been an absolutely incredible experience. I learned that my worth goes beyond what I can contribute to my team or the pleasure I took in playing a game I love. I am a dearly loved child of God, bought at a price, and capable of so much more than what can be accomplished in a 100×60 yard space. I had a small sense of this as player but was often so focused on the task at hand to embrace it. I will always be an athlete, but that is only part of my identity. I’m enjoying the life God has given me as I continually discover new parts of my identity and take on new challenges off the field.

7. What is one thing you wished someone had told you about transitioning to life after college sports?

It would have been great to get counseling on nutrition. I think education on nutrition while competing would have been great, but more so once we were done training. Most of us ate “whatever we wanted” because we’d likely burn it off at practice. That mindset became tricky when there was no longer a practice to burn off those extra calories. Sure I could go run for 30 minutes and burn off some calories, but it didn’t compare with my in-season training regiment. Plus, this girl has a sweet tooth and I would have loved to find healthier ways to satisfy those cravings than chocolate chip cookies after every meal.


Hope you enjoyed hearing from Michelle!  Tell me in the comments below, what did you struggle with as you transitioned out of your high school or college sport?

<3 Lauren