Finding Success On and Off the Ice: Mitch Vandergunst on Transitioning from a Hockey Player to Professional Real Estate Investor
There are many professions that most recognize as a temporary role and when transitioning to a new profession, those individuals experience unique challenges, both mentally and emotionally. Athletes are among those people, and moving from the ice rink, field, or court to an office is not as simple as it sounds.
Professional sports entails many special memories — high-stakes matches, publicity, and team camaraderie. Most of those life aspects disappear in the traditional work setting. And perhaps that’s why many athletes opt for the non-traditional career, such as various forms of entrepreneurship.
Mitch Vandergunst is a former professional hockey player from London, Ontario, currently transitioning into the commercial real estate investment industry. He shares his thoughts on the challenges of transitioning to a new career.
What Unique Challenges Do Athletes Have When Transitioning to a Non-sports Career?
The most often missed part of professional sports is the high level of teamwork. Players connect with players on an emotional level over shared goals, hardships, and mindsets. Leaving an intimate community and rebuilding one’s professional relationships can be difficult — traumatic even — for some.
Successfully transitioned professional athletes find a way to achieve vocational stability through edifying relationships within their desired industry.
As such, professional athletes must utilize their skills by identifying people with similar mindsets and then forging relationships with them. Thankfully, professional athletes also possess an enormous stockpile of valuable soft skills, says Mitch Vandergunst.
What Kind of Skills Do Athletes Learn that Can Transfer to a New Career?
Mitch Vandergunst is no stranger to hard work and dedication. His hockey career is characterized by his continual rise through the ranks. Mitch began playing in Junior D, and moved his way up the ranks each year through Junior C, B and A until finally making it as a professional player in the SPHL. From there, Mitch moved to the even more competitive ECHL, where he has played for the last three years. Mitch’s dedication, hard work and continual pursuit of higher achievements on the ice have certainly influenced his work ethic off the ice.
The skills Mitch acquired on the ice go far beyond simple technical skills. And while these hard skills are necessary to be successful in a specific field or industry, intangible skills like dedication and positive work ethic greatly impact one’s ability to acquire those technical skills and adapt to changing circumstances.
These skills are also known as “transferable skills.” Successfully transitioned professional athletes lean into their soft skills to accelerate their growth within a new profession.
Professional athletes understand hard work and persistence. When others feel discouraged, most athletes know that if they stay consistent and positive, they will achieve success.
Additionally, most professional athletes understand that losing is never the end but is instead an opportunity to grow. Failure, though uncomfortable, offers a person critical information to help them improve themselves and their technical skills.
In some cases, these soft skills catapult professional athletes to perform among the top of their new profession. These athletes possess the kind of growth mindset that perseveres through difficulty and patiently reaps results after hard work and consistency pay off.
Mitch Vandergunst is a former professional hockey player in the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL) from Ontario, Canada. Mr. Vandergunst also founded the real estate investment firm Emvy Group Inc. These days, he is focused on continuing to build a robust commercial investment profile with single and multi-unit properties in the greater London, Ontario area.