Getting to know: Jessica Lydia (Part II)

Here at AddedSport, our consultants make the magic happen – but how much do you know about them? We’re back with Part II of our interview with Jessica Lydia from our Jakarta, Indonesia office – this time, let’s get a better understanding of how she managed to balance school and golf, and her transition into the life of a touring professional!

Was it tough juggling both school and sport back in Jakarta and in the US? How was it like?
School on its own was already tough. Adding sport (n my case: golf), to the agenda made it way more difficult. As you know, school takes your whole day here in Indonesia – it’s 7.30am to 4pm, or longer sometimes. Counting in traffic, you pretty much spend the whole day at school. So it was never easy from the start juggling both school and sport. I learned to prioritize. I spent the rest of my days or my weekends practicing while my friends were out hanging out in the mall. It takes a lot of grit and hard work, which is something innate for most athletes – we are used sweating and grinding night and day to make sure we keep improving.

Balancing school and golf was a lot easier in the U.S. because of the amazing facilities that a student-athlete would have. I lived on campus, took classes in campus, ate, studied, and did everything in campus – except playing golf, because our facility was off-campus. As athletes you’d have your own gym, study area, and a lot of other perks that are very supportive of one’s development athletically and academically. Plus the fact that you’re playing representing your school, it’s a total pride – you get really hyped up – the other students see you as “athletes”, it encourages you to really put in the effort to perform. All of this made the extra work and sweat needed being an athlete, worth it in the end.

Was it really worth it though?
Definitely worth it now that I look back. Personally, I didn’t quite enjoy the “sacrifices” I had to make in the first place. Sure, I didn’t get to have as much “socializing” time as a non-athlete would, but later when I would have conversations with my college friends – they shared how hard it was for them to find schools and get admitted – there was a large element of luck that they had to factor in, which made the application process nerve-wrecking for them. On the other hand, I had schools wanting me, recruiting me because I played a sport – it was a fairly easy process for me. Looking back, without making the “sacrifices”, I wouldn’t have been a good golfer, and I wouldn’t have been recruited. Sport really gave me that advantage. Throughout my college journey, I knew that it was not feasible to have career in competitive professional sport sustain me in the long-run – there are too many uncertainties that comes with being an athlete, the obvious example being injury. Hence I wanted to keep school in the picture, and lucky for me, I did just that. Soon after I graduated and pursued a professional golf career, I sustained an ankle injury which has prevented me from even picking up a golf club. If I did not have education as a back up, I honestly would not know what I would be doing right now.

What was the pro experience like?
Overall, it was fun because you get to do what you love, and having a career in sports is fun in general. However, as much as you love something, if you have to do it everyday, every second (I trained 8am to 4pm – it’s like working a regular job), it’s not about how much you love the sports anymore that keeps you going, because the reality is: you won’t love it every second anymore. There will be moments where you just feel like “I’m so done.” In those moments it’s crucial to remind yourself that you made this choice to try to live off of your sport, it’s your source of income, so persevere through it. In golf, being a professional is like running a company. You have to plan and think of which tournaments to join, if you do decide you’re playing in a tournament, it’s because you know you’ve done the math and you can make money from it because each tournament is an investment of potential return.

What advice do you have for aspiring pros?
Being a professional athlete isn’t easy. Make sure you’re not turning pro just because the opportunity is there or because you don’t like studying. Being a pro requires a lot of determination, hard work, perseverance, and maturity. You have to be realistic – why do you want to turn pro? Will you be able to live off of the earnings from your sport? How long you can live off of it?. Lastly, have a back up plan. If it doesn’t work out, what will you be doing? I stopped playing golf because of my injury, I wasn’t able to walk at all, wheelchair-bound for 3 weeks because of calcification in my ankle. These current physical limitations are preventing me from playing sports competitively right now, and I’m glad I have my degree to fall back on, otherwise I will be sport-less and jobless. It’s important to stay in school (by school I mean earning an undergraduate degree, graduating from university) even when your aspiration is to turn pro.

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