Julie Dorn-McBride knew it the day it happened. She knew she would have to move on.
Why couldn’t she be seven years old again, just starting out in gymnastics? Julie loved the sport and would later depend on it for emotional sustenance. The thought of giving it up made her tremble.
But here it was, the day she had dreaded for so long. Her last gymnastics meet.
She and the Missouri gymnastics team were in Auburn, Ala., for the 1991 NCAA Regionals. Julie competed as usual that day, but when the competition ended, something was not right.
“You have that feeling of emptiness inside you because you know it’s over,” Dorn-McBride said.
Julie’s husband, Adrian McBride, once faced the same reality. A wide receiver on the Missouri football team from 1982-1985, he aspired to a career in the NFL.
But two teams cut him in two seasons. His professional football days were over before they had begun.
For years after they graduated, the McBrides struggled with developing careers outside of sports. The couple did not want other former athletes to go through the same thing.
“Many athletes have planned little for their future by the time they graduate,” McBride said. “They have little or no time to concentrate on what they want to do after college athletics.”
McBride felt there was an untapped market for providing career assistance to student athletes. His wife agreed.
Last November, he pitched his plan to Missouri athletic director Mike Alden and his assistants. They were sold.
McBride officially founded the McBride Group in December, with his wife serving as partner.
The “Life After Sports” program is part of the company. Its goal is to enhance life and job skills for student-athletes, McBride said.
That inevitable last day of competition seemed so distant to Julie when she was younger. She trained for 30-to-35 hours a week at age 10. She had to, in order to stay sharp and be able to perform internationally.
She thought the joy of competing and the feeling of accomplishment it brought her would last forever.
Her many honors, among them 1991 Big Eight Female Athlete of the Year and NCAA All-American in 1990 and 1991, would be just a memory.
A career in the real world loomed.
Her husband thought he would take orders from Marty Schottenheimer for many years when he was drafted by the Cleveland Browns.
But the Browns, who wanted to switch McBride to strong safety, had no space for him. They hid him on injured reserve and cut him at the end of the 1986 season.
He signed with the St. Louis Cardinals the next year and saw some playing time.
But when the team moved to Phoenix after the 1987 season, McBride did not join it. The Cardinals cut him.
McBride was ill-prepared for a career after sports. He had only known athletics for all his life.
“When it came to an end abruptly, so to speak, I was almost in a tailspin,” McBride said. “I had no idea what I wanted to do, what I wanted to be, where I wanted to go.”
Who was he other than Adrian McBride, wide receiver? At the time, he couldn’t have told you.
Dorn-McBride thought she would be able to shift from collegiate athletics to an occupational career easily.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in social work and counseling in 1991. After graduating, she worked with at-risk children at a firm in Kansas City.
But Dorn-McBride grew tired of her job before too long. She had been away from competing for about a year and that left an immeasurable void in her.
“I had never thought about a life after gymnastics until it was happening,” Dorn-McBride said. “I had never really thought about a career in my major.”
She knew she had to be around sports, so she returned to Missouri in 1992. She received a master’s in sports management and athletics administration.
After working for the Big Eight Conference (later the Big 12) and the Kansas City Chiefs, she returned to Missouri last year. She is currently the director of suite operations for the athletic department.
McBride bounced around from job to job after his NFL career ended.He could not get comfortable.
“I had no direction, I had no focus…I had nothing,” he said.
In 1992 he started the McBride Company, which helped recruit, support, and place manufacturing workers in jobs.
But the company dissolved in 2001, and sports beckoned once again.
McBride took a job as the youth football representative for Riddell Sports in 2001. He sold uniforms and helmets to many of the youth programs in the St. Louis area until last September.
He left because he had something else on his mind.
The couple had discussed their past athletic experiences before they were married last August. Most of the former athletes they knew had endured the same post-graduation difficulties.
They made the transition to post-athletic careers successfully and wanted to lend a hand to others striving to do the same.
McBride left Riddell and put all his ideas from years past into writing.
Two months later, he was presenting his idea to Alden and others. The Missouri athletic department announced its partnership with “Life After Sports” on Jan. 1.
The McBride Group, based in Columbia, is geared specifically to student-athletes. The company works together with the Total Person Program, the academic support program for student-athletes.
“We almost are like an injection into that area,” McBride said. “We kind of take over the career development and…run with it.”
The “Life After Sports” program will go beyond fundamental services like teaching job interview basics or how to write a resume, McBride said.
It will also offer career counseling and provide information on career fairs and job referrals.
McBride believes that “Life After Sports” will expand to colleges and universities across the nation.
“I think it’s excellent,” Missouri gymnastics assistant coach Paul Scardina said. “I know one of our seniors has utilized its services and the other is waiting to hear about her graduate studies program.”