#89 From Athlete to Advocate: Keegan Hipgrave’s Career Transition, Achieving Optimum Mental Health, & Being a Great Friend

Keegan Hipgrave is a former NRL player who played a total of 49 games for 2 clubs, the Gold Coast Titans and the Paramatta Eels. His NRL debut at just 20 years of age marked the beginning of a promising sporting career. But sometimes things in life don’t go to plan, and Keegan’s football career came to an early end due to a series of concussions, forcing him to medically retire at the age of 24.

Recognising the importance of prioritising his own physical and psychological wellbeing. Keegan took a step back to refocus, and emerged with a renewed purpose. He is now making an impact as the host of the Keegan & Co Podcast, using this platform to spark meaningful conversations about mental health in sport. He has recently started a new role as Player Transition Manager for the Rugby League Players Association and he is studying a post graduate in psychology. In this episode, you will hear about : 

  • Transition and Identity: Keegan’s journey of transition from being a professional athlete to finding a new identity outside of sport
  • Mental Health and Resilience: Experience with concussion and the impact on confidence and mental wellbeing, and his advocacy for mental health awareness and support 
  • Connection and Community: The importance of connection and community, from relationships with family and friends to involvement with organisations like What Ability and the Rugby League Players Association, underscoring the value of support networks 
  • Purpose and Legacy: Throughout the conversation Keegan reflects on his purpose and the legacy he hopes to leave behind
  • Learning and Growth: From experience in professional sport to current pursuits in psychology and podcasting, emphasising the importance of curiosity, continuous learning, and self-improvement 

In this episode Andrew and Keegan Discuss:

3:35 Keegan growing up on the Gold Coast, creating an identity outside of NRL and the mountain analogy of transitioning careers.

12:55 Keegan’s history of concussions while playing NRL, realising there was something wrong with his brain and admitting the need to medically retire from rugby.

21:00 Taking time off after medically retiring, the importance of connections in life and working with What Ability.

26:10 The story of Keegan’s friend Reagan who committed suicide, why Keegan is so passionate about mental health and Keegan’s message to those who are struggling.

38:45 Making sure to plan out connecting with others, starting up a podcast to make use of those connections and helping others open up about their struggles.

51:25 How Andrew sets up for success before a keynote, the legacy Keegan wants to leave at the Rugby League Player’s Association and helping players transition out of rugby successfully.

1:07:15 Living on purpose, where Keegan sees himself 5 years from now and Andrew’s feedback for Keegan’s podcast.

You can find Keegan at his Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/keeganhipgrave/?hl=en

Or at his LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/keegan-hipgrave-9a36b8230/

Follow Keegan’s podcast on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/keeganandcompanypod/?hl=en

Listen to Keegan’s podcast: https://podcasts.apple.com/au/podcast/keegan-and-company/id1695873736