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Advice / Career Paths / Exploring Careers

I Play Soccer Professionally While Also Running a Business—Here's How

Jonathan Borrajo
John Carluccio

It’s no secret that Jonathan Borrajo, a right wingback for the New York Cosmos, loves the game of soccer. But while scoring a goal, defending a tricky shot, and winning championships are exhilarating moments, none of them is the best thing about the sport.

“Any athlete will tell you that the best thing—what they’ll miss most after they retire—is the bonds they made with their teammates,” he shares.

And it just so happens that two of the friends Borrajo met through the game—Mason Trafford and Rhett Bernstein—are his business partners, too.

Back in 2017, when they were all living and playing in Miami, they started SoccerShape, a soccer-based fitness company. Workouts are for all skill levels and are “designed with an element of competition, something to challenge people and track progress,” explains Borrajo. At first, it was just a hobby, a way of connecting people and raising funds for charity.

“Building community has always been at the forefront,” Borrajo says. “Soccer brings people together in a really special way.”

Photo courtesy of Alenny Orovio.

To test out the market, Borrajo and his co-founders scheduled some pop-up style classes. It was a hit from day one. After several clients requested more classes on a consistent basis, they created a regular schedule and membership options.

Today, the company operates in both Miami and New York with plans to open more locations in the United States and internationally. It’s a full-blown business, keeping Borrajo, Bernstein, and Trafford quite busy during their hours off the field.

To learn more about how Borrajo balances two seemingly full-time jobs, keep reading:

How Do You Balance Running a Business and Playing Professionally?

I’m a professional soccer player by day, businessman by afternoon, and instructor by night. Typically, I get home around 2 PM from training, have an espresso, and get to work. While I’m doing this, I’m mentally working but trying to physically rest as much as possible.

Photo courtesy of John Carluccio.

Each night, I make sure to get between eight to 10 hours of rest so that the next day I’m as refreshed as I can be for training. At the moment, I’m running classes the day after games—my off days—which is great regeneration training for a tired, post-game body!

And it definitely helps that I’m not doing this alone. Rhett, Mason, and I are equal partners in SoccerShape, and we complement one another very well. Plus, we also have a phenomenal coaching staff.

How Do You and Your Business Partners Split Up Responsibilities?

We all wear a lot of hats, but I think that’s normal for a startup. Rhett focuses on our website design, future business development, and making sure we stay on course with our business plans. Mason has an incredible way with words and does a lot of our communications and PR. I’m in charge of social media, accounting, and getting permits.

Photo courtesy of Claudia Trafford.

In addition, we all coach, assist each other while one of us is coaching, and have each other’s backs if someone needs to miss a day for personal reasons. Just like we cover one another on the field, we do so off the field, too.

You’re Living Proof You Can Turn Your Passion Into a Full-time Career—What Advice Do You Have for People Who Want to Do the Same?

Creating SoccerShape started with a decision to “just do.” My partners and I wanted to build something that’d serve as a creative and entrepreneurial outlet and also have an impact on our community. We decided to do what we know, and what we know is soccer.

We found that the hardest part is getting started. But once you dive in and make a commitment to exploring your idea, things just start to happen. It’s a great feeling, watching something you’ve dreamt about come to life. So, find something that excites you—that keeps you up at night—and work to bring that feeling to others.

What’s Your Favorite Piece of Career Advice to Give Others?

Don’t burn bridges. Do your absolute best in everything you do. Not everyone may like you, but if you’re always professional in what you do and put your best foot forward, I think that’s all anyone could ever ask of you.

Infographic courtesy of Mary Schafrath.