Alex Opacic

The transition from being an athlete

Written by Tate Wilkins

Transition from being an athlete; don’t let it go altogether

They say the best coaches aren’t always the best players. Craig Bellamy, Michael Maguire and Trent Robinson are three perfect examples, with all three playing more reserve grade than NRL games in their career. The common consensus is because they are not as talented as others, they have to work harder and can often relate better to the entire playing squad, not just the superstar players. This could be the same for players who suffer injuries – because of that developed hard work ethic, these skills can manifest into the foundations of a good coach. Former basketballer Alex Opacic isn’t a coach in the traditional sense, but through his venture ‘Athlete2Business’, he is coaching and influencing athletes in more ways than he ever did as a player.

Alex Opacic

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Business snapshot – Athlete2Business (A2B)

  • Athlete2Business is a recruitment agency specialising in placing former professional athletes into businesses.
  • The experienced team – founded by Alex and comprised of former professional athletes, now successful business executives – work closely with both the athlete-candidate and business client aligning the candidate’s skill set, passions and goals with the client’s needs.
  • Alex’s long term goal: “We want to be a global leader in the athlete transition space. When a business thinks of an athlete for a job, they will think of A2B. If an athlete thinks of transitioning, they will think of A2B”.

It’s the little things that mean more in life

Joe Ingles. Patty Mills. Andrew Bogut. Steph Curry. These are players that Alex Opacic grew up playing with and against; the first two side by side at the AIS. Croatia. Macedonia. Greece. Cyprus.The College system in America, playing against the best talent in the world for his age. Despite playing in these incredible locations, Alex lists the season playing the level below the NBL for Albury and winning the comp as underdogs as his greatest playing achievement. The 6ft 10’ Croatian-born player appears more mature than he realised; having an appreciation for the more subtle yet more rewarding things; not the flashy accolades on paper – perhaps paving the way for his future business of getting athletes to see the other side to life; not just sport.

If you can’t change your situation; change your attitude

Many athletes identify the hardest part of transitioning is the loss of identity. I’m no longer that famous athlete. I’m no longer great or worthwhile or of any purpose. For Alex, he always had that identity as a basketballer which he couldn’t just abandon despite chronic knee injuries bringing his career to an end. “I was at a loss, angry, frustrated – just refusing to believe basketball was over. I was working a few shitty jobs for cash but my head was never in it. For me, the turning point was when I decided to go all in with my job at Austereo”. Alex changed his thinking and decided to be an “athlete in business” and utilise those high-performance skills he acquired from playing sport. Alex explains “I still see myself as an athlete – but within the business world. So instead of going to the gym and working on my jumpshot, I’m working on my communications, my marketing, my business skills”. Alex’s quote is proof in the power of mindset. If you can’t let go, then don’t – just re-frame your mind. The word itself is transition: – not to let it go entirely.

Image credits: Athlete2Business

“Be the best you can be and your passion will find you”

Playing professional sport is like living out a dream. Once that’s over, you end up doing something you don’t enjoy as much so naturally it’s gonna feel a bit superfluous. Working a 9-to-5 job, you start to question yourself. Alex‘s advice at that point is to have faith, something will eventually come along. “But that dream ain’t coming along unless you tough it out. Nothing will reach the highs of playing sport but you must realise that and accept it and stop comparing life now to life as an athlete. So suck it up, do things you don’t like and let your passion find you. Passion doesn’t grow on trees but bills don’t care what you like and don’t like”. Alex personal example of this was that change of mindset and starting to immerse himself as the best business development manager he could be, having faith something better will come along. “That came along in the form of Athlete2Business. I feel that passion – and I feel like I’m playing basketball once again!”

Alex’s final advice:

“The hardest thing to do is to get started but my advice is to just start. I use a motto “ Ready, Fire, Set” as in ready, go – then set yourself. A lot of people are the opposite – they get ready, set, then go but then they end up spending hours and hours on their business plan just thinking of how to do it; not actually doing it. Just do it. The market will tell you what you need to do. If you sit there and think about it you never will do it”. NRL player Chris Lawrence, on the eve of his 250th game in the black and gold, agrees and adds to that sentiment with Alex on The Be Ready Podcast: “It’s better to know what you don’t want to do than to do nothing”.

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