"Austin Sanders is a 3X all-conference offensive tackle that played at Mercer University. During his athletic career, he developed skills that helped him navigate the football playing field. When it came time to transition from sports to the sport of life, the same skills that allowed Austin to excel in his sport have continued to be useful.
While working to best utilize the talents that became visible to him during his playing years, he learned that he could use his experiences and skills to make a difference in others' lives; by combining his want to help others and his storytelling ability, the chapter entitled "The Game is Played Above The Shoulders" was manifested. It is Austin's hope that his experiences can help other athletes reclaim their identity and adapt with life."
1. Tells us about your collegiate career as a football player.
I had a good career as an offensive lineman. After starting at offensive tackle during my freshman year at Mississippi Valley State, I comprised a highlight tape that was good enough to catch the attention of many offensive line coaches at other Division I and 2 schools. After many negotiations, I was able to transfer to Mercer University on a full athletic scholarship. I had to sit out and use my redshirt for the first year I was there but as soon as that season ended, I became a starter at right offensive tackle the following season.
That season 2017, I earned second team all- conference honors. I earned first-team all-conference honors in 2018 and second team all-conference honors in 2019.
2. How was your transition out of football?
My transition out of football felt dramatic but it was refreshing. Having to make the decision to become more than just a football player to continue to grow in life felt colossal at the time. It felt like I was jumping into the unknown and I felt a directionless sadness for about a week. Then I watched an episode of Shark Tank and realized that most of the inventors on that show were short and didn't need to use their body to make a living.
They were just people that learned a different game than I did. It made me feel like all I needed to do was learn more skills and eventually, I would be able to be as good at something else as I was at football.
3. How important is it for athletes to develop and identity outside of sports?
It is crucial for athletes to have an identity outside of sports because their sport is only an occupation- a temporary on at that. Discovering my identity through understanding the person I am instead of simply attaching it to something outside of myself has been helpful to me. I feel we all can discover ourselves by examining the patterns throughout our lives.
4. What characteristic or transferable skills have implemented in your career now as a property manager?
Working in property management consists of going into homes in all kinds of conditions in all kinds of weather, furthermore, being able to handle projects of different sizes. Football taught me discipline, organized effort, creative problem solving, and leadership which are all skills that I employ on a daily basis to handle my responsibilities in my career and in my personal life.
5. As a first-time author (The Six-Figure Athlete), what did you deem most rewarding? Also, what message did you convey in the book?
As a author I found it most rewarding that I set out to use information that I know to offer to those who could benefit from it, and I was able to see it through. In my chapter, I spoke about the importance of knowledge of self and how it can help athletes find their way in life post athletics.
6. On your podcast, "Polyonymous" you discuss different books you've read, furthermore highlighted multiple gems learned from reading each book. What influence you to create this podcast?
In 2018, after many people suggested that I start a podcast, three of my friends and I started a podcast about the unorthodox topics we normally spoke about in our free time; like the need for boycott buttons, homoerotic locker-room behavior in homophobic sports, and other things like that. We stopped in the same year, but people kept asking me to start it back up for a little over three years. I wanted to speak about something I cared about that would be useful for others. That's when I had the idea to make a podcast about the books I read and how they evolve my thinking.
7. The Richest Man in Babylon is highlighted on your podcast. Is that your favorite book? If so, please elaborate why.
The Richest Man in Babylon is one of my favorite books because it helped me to understand that ever-elusive topic of personal finance and it made the information interesting enough to remember by telling it in story format. It is mentioned by many notable entrepreneurs and business pundits like Jim Rohn, Freeway Rick Ross, my high school principal Dr. Brian Bolden, and a plethora of other names. It typically makes me feel like I'm on a good path when I'm doing the same things as people that have succeeded at things I want to do.
8. What other books have you read that has helped you along your journey?
Other books that I have read that helped me include: The Four Agreements by Don Miguel, The Secret by Ronda Byrne, Ridin' with Rick: The 21 Keys to Success by Freeway Rick Ross and Kolie Krutcher, B.O.S.S. Moves by Myron Golden. Battlecry: Waging and Winning The War. Within by Jason Wilson and The Big Leap: Conquer Your Hidden Fear and Take Life To The Next Level by Gay Hendricks.
9. What can we do as former athletes to continue to motivate athletes to find success beyond the playing field?
The best motivation is giving those that come after us a successful image and path to follow. We must find out how to continuously achieve our personal goals so that the people looking for examples can identify us as examples, and we have learned as much as possible that can get them where they are trying to go on their journey. 100 Black Men of America organization's slogan reads" What they see is what they will be". I agree with this completely. If they see former athletes succeeding and enjoying life post-athletics, they'll become successful people that enjoy life post-athletics.
10. Give advice to younger Austin, the football player.
I would tell the following to my younger self:
a. There is almost never a need to rush. Consistent effort will get us everywhere we need to go
b. There is always someone, somewhere that can teach you what you want to know
c. "Wealth is being able to convert knowledge and experience into capital and equity"
d. The way you do anything is the way you do everything so however you achieved in your sport will be the way you achieve afterwards.
e. It takes same amount of energy to come up with excuses that it does to come up with solutions.
f. Everything you listen to and watch creates your world. Are you making a world you enjoy?
g. Reading the experiences of others saves time and builds the mind
h. Above all else, learn to trust yourself and learn to forgive yourself in all circumstances