Life after the Olympics
Updated: Nov 23, 2022
As we watch and celebrate the Beijing 2022 Olympic Games, we can’t help but wonder, “what does life look like for these athletes after the Olympics?” You might assume that these players will continue on with their sport or end up in a sports-related profession such as coaching or broadcasting, but the reality is, most of these athletes will start a career outside of sports.
We caught up with several employees who competed in the Olympic Games and have subsequently had successful careers with Stryker. Read on to learn more about their life after the Olympics.
Alyssa Anderson, London 2012 Games
Alyssa competed in Swimming in the 2012 Olympic Games in London, United Kingdom where she swam for the winning U.S. team in the women's 4x200-meter freestyle relay and earned a gold medal!
Her sister, Haley, also competed in the 2012 Olympic Games and took home a silver medal in the 10-kilometer open water marathon. “Watching my sister win a Silver Medal is my favorite memory from the Olympics,” Alyssa says.
Alyssa joined Stryker in 2015 where she began a career in sales. Today, she is a Sales Rep for Stryker’s Orthopaedic Instruments division in Santa Monica, California.
Alyssa describes her transition after sports as challenging. “Life after sport is something that is definitely not talked about enough at the elite level. But I'm so thankful for the role Stryker has played in giving me the competition and challenge I have always craved.
My best friend and mentor at work is Steve Lewis, a fellow Olympian. It's always fun to walk into an account with my USA and Stryker teammate for life!”
Caroline “KK” Clark, Rio 2016 Games
Caroline, also known as “KK,” competed in Water Polo in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where she and her team earned a gold medal! After the Games, she went on to compete in Australia’s National Water Polo League where she led her team to its best finish in program history.
In 2017, KK retired from her Water Polo career and entered the workforce as a Marketing Associate. She worked for Entellus Medical, which was acquired by Stryker in 2018. Shortly after the acquisition, she entered Stryker’s salesforce as an Associate Sales Rep and is currently a Sales Rep for Stryker’s Endoscopy division in the San Francisco, California area.
KK describes her transition from Water Polo to medical device sales as “challenging,” but says “finding like-minded people who are competitive at Stryker feels like finding a new "team"!
Jillian Williams, Tokyo 2020 Games
Jillian competed as a member of the U.S. Sitting Volleyball team in the 2020 Paralympics Games in Tokyo, Japan, where she and her team earned a gold medal.
Jillian’s journey started while playing college volleyball when she began feeling pain in her left knee. “I thought it was my meniscus and I self-diagnosed myself the entire season.” Eventually, Jillian got an MRI and learned what the real issue was — Ewing's sarcoma, a type of bone cancer, along with a fracture.
Jillian’s doctor provided a few treatment options and Jillian chose the one that gave her the best chance of playing sports — her passion and motivation. It was called rotationplasty. Rotationplasty is an amputation in which the femur and the knee are removed, making room for the bottom half of the leg to rotate 180 degrees and be reattached with the foot facing backward.
After surgery, as Jillian faced long hours of physical therapy and cancer treatments, she started thinking about how she could be active again. Her mind kept going back to volleyball, so she decided to teach herself how to play sitting volleyball. “I started practicing by myself, and as I became stronger, I decided to record a video and send it to the U.S. national sitting volleyball team.” To Jillian’s surprise, she was asked to join the program and start training with the team after completing her treatments.
Around the time Jillian received the offer to join the Paralympic team, she also graduated college. She interviewed for a job at Stryker, promising to give 100% as a working athlete. “The hiring manager was completely supportive,” Jillian says.
It wasn’t long before Jillian discovered another passion and motivation – helping people. As a Mako Product Specialist, Jillian connects with patients and surgeons in a unique way. “I feel like I do my job 10 times better,” she says, crediting her personal experience. “Over the years, I have encountered more doctors than I ever wish to say. I like I’m able to empathize with surgeons and see why they chose orthopaedics as a specialty, to help patients like me. I love supporting doctors and their patients so much and having the best product on the market helps.”
For Jillian's full story, check out our blog post A winning spirit helps Paralympian and Stryker employee on the court and in the operating room.
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