After the GameAug 08, 2018

Life After the Game with Brian Carroll

Over his 14-year career, Brian Carroll saw more than 30,000 minutes of playing time in 371 games. He made the most of that time, racking up a list of accomplishments that includes two MLS Cup championships, one with DC United in 2004 and one with Columbus Crew SC in 2008, and four consecutive Supporter Shields. Carroll's dedication to the game was clear, but he was also dedicated to preparing for his life after soccer. Throughout his professional career, Carroll continued to educate himself so he would be better equipped going into his retirement. His persistence and desire to learn set him up for success as he transitions to a financial planning role with the help of another former player and friend, William Hesmer. 

Q: You continued to further your education throughout your playing career. How did you balance both?

Brian Carroll: I’ve always had a strong desire to learn. Even though I left Wake Forest University early to pursue a career in professional soccer, a college degree was important to me.  The longer my professional soccer career lasted the more important I knew it would be to finish my undergraduate degree and learn new skills for life after sports. After leaving Wake Forest without a degree, I immediately took advantage of an education grant included in my contract to complete my undergraduate studies. But I quickly learned that I enjoyed lifelong learning and was hungry for more business and investing education.  Fortunately, education became more accessible through online platforms and I was able to take advantage of programs offered by established universities such as the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Kenan-Flagler Business School and the University of Georgia Terry College of Business.  Essentially, I’d finish training at 2:00 PM and then drive straight to campus, a coffee shop, or my home office to complete class and/or assignments until 10:00 PM.  It was a change, going from class all day to soccer at night in my youth and college days, to soccer all morning and early afternoon to class and assignments all night.  Eventually, I found a groove and my schedule felt like a new normal.

Q: When did you start to get interested in the world of finance?

Brian: After my rookie season in, we received access to a 401k.  Feeling excited about receiving access to a retirement savings program, I read every article, magazine, and book I could gather.  Learning about compound interest and the benefits of saving money early in life fueled the fire in me to consider financial planning as a career opportunity once professional soccer had ran its course.  

Q: What has the transition from player to business professional been like? Has it been helpful to be working alongside another former MLS player?

Brian: The transition from player to business professional has been exciting!  Studying and taking exams isn’t always fun, but I enjoy learning and upon successfully passing the Series 7, 66, Life & Health, Long Term Care, and Accredited Asset Management exams I now get to help people organize and improve their financial lives.  The learning curve that comes with transitioning from soccer player to business professional can be daunting.  Having a friend, mentor, and business partner like William Hesmer has been a huge advantage that has increased my learning curve and helped me push through any difficult moments that have surfaced.  

Q: Are there traits that helped you as a player that you feel have also helped you as a business professional?

Brian: Ethics, confidence, communication, skill-building, hard work, persistence, desire to learn, and being coachable helped me to blossom into a reliably consistent soccer player and I’m positive these transitional attributes will help me in the business world.

Q: You also served as a PA player representative for 11 years, do you feel that was beneficial in terms of preparing for the business world?

Brian: Absolutely. Serving as an MLSPA player representative allowed me to gain organization, communication, and leadership skills that allowed me to improve my resume as I fulfilled a responsibility that I was already passionate about.  I think it is a valuable role that any current player would learn a great deal from participating in their respective capacity.   

Q: What advice would you give to current players about preparing for life after the game?

Brian: “Big or small, do it right or not at all.” I’ve heard this simple message in one form or another repeatedly in my life from family, friends, and mentors.  It can be applied regardless if it’s soccer, school, or the business world.  I’ve tried to apply it to everything that I do.  I’d also add that current players should not leave anything in the tank as it relates to your soccer playing career. In addition, use the platform that you’ve earned through soccer to open doors for life after soccer.  It doesn’t matter if its school, a business venture, or a career transition; use your soccer platform to set yourself up for life after sport.  I would do an internship in some way, shape, or form during and/or after every season, especially if an undergraduate degree has already been earned.  Essentially, make yourself too good to ignore.

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