Overcoming Adversity and Addiction: The Story of Strength Coach Jason Brader | Part 2
Fitness For All Podcast: Episode 21
Welcome to another edition of Fitness for All with Cam Jenkins, sponsored by Lebert Fitness.
In this episode, Cam talks with Jason Brader. He is the Director of Sports Performance at Albright College. Brader is handling all strength and conditioning duties for the 24 varsity sports teams on campus. Brader comes to Albright following stops at Louisiana Tech and Alabama.
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*The following podcast has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.
Show Notes - Episode 21
That is a wonderful way to say it. Now let's get back to when you're training athletes. When you first meet an athlete, what's your process to get to know them and to find out the best way that you can help them be the best that they can be?
Well, I think the first step is to really set the expectations and I'm really big on setting what I expect from every athlete; I never push, or I guess tell somebody what I feel they can or can't do. That's not my choice. That's their choice. So, I impress this. I set the bar high and the standard’s set, but from there, every individual has the opportunity every single day to showcase their best, whether it's my children, the athletes I train. I tell them that when they walk out, they have the school's name on the front numbers on the front and back. But ultimately they have their father's name on their shoulders, and it's up to them every single day to live up to the name that their father gave them, but also to create their own name. So every single day you have that choice.
You have a decision to make, how am I going to create my name? What am I going to leave behind? I know I have my birth date and I know there's going to be a date after that. That's the day I'm gone. And I want to decide what that hyphen looks like, and I want to live life full. So basically that's the tone that I set from there. I have a knack and I feel my strength is getting to know the athletes. They want to approach me. I always have an open door policy. I want the kids to come in. I like talking to them every day. I'm a high five guy, give him a bump. And I think a lot of coaches, especially nowadays, depending on what side you're on, they want to impress their technical skills. They want to showcase how smart they are or what they've read or what they're doing.
I know with Mark, Mark's a guy that he and I, we hit it off right away because he's such a personable guy and he's a guy that you want to be around. And basically, I didn't care what Mark knew. I knew that he had a great product and that wasn't what sold me because I knew that I could do a ton of stuff with his bars, with his straps and all that stuff. But what sold me was him and just his aura and I think that great coaches have that. They have that vibe where they're going to make, regardless of where you are, it could be the worst conditions in the entire world. They're going to make it the place to be. And I think that's what I love to do with my athletes and just hone in on that mental toughness, attitude, and just instill that in every single person that I get to work.
Yeah. You're very right about Mark. He is a fantastic at motivating people and he just genuinely cares and is an authentic person. And I'm definitely getting the same vibe from you as well.
Yeah. People will never remember what you know, or how smart you were. They'll remember how they treated you.
And how they made you feel.
Yes. And I know there's been a lot of kids that they've come to my office, and they just disclosed personal things about their family, about their lives. They feel like quitting and taking a step back and I'm able to encourage them with my life story. They don't want to know about how good I ran the ball or what my athletes were in college. I'm able to share them my hardships and tell them they can do it. And there's nothing that I could say or tell them that's going to get them out of it, but I can give them that punch in their arm. And maybe just a little boost because everything we need in life, everything that we need is within us, everything. So regardless of how tough your life is, you have the makeup, you have the energy, you have the know-how, you have the instinct to get to where you need to be. Nothing I can do can help you, but you have what you need inside of you to be able to extract that and having the courage and faith.
I do understand that ultimately, that a person has to do it themselves. It has to come from within however, it is also I'll say comforting, and I'm not sure if that's the word, to know that somebody else has kind of gone through what you have gone through in life, because it can feel awful lonely. When you feel like you're the only person that's gone through something in life.
Yeah, of course. But ultimately your darkest days are called that because they're your days, they're your days. It's how you handle them right now with the pandemic. There's a lot of folks that are inside their house, even though they feel isolated, they're not alone. We're all experiencing the same thing. So what's your mental health? Like, what's your mental self-talk, how are you promoting yourself? Are you thinking negatively? Are you positive? Are you looking forward to potentially how life's going to improve or you capitalizing on some things that maybe you wouldn't have done or maybe avoided prior to these times. And are you able to learn more about yourself and thrive during these darker days? Because eventually the light will turn on, but you'll never know that if you quit. When you're around winners, when you're around people that have overcome great odds, I think that has no other choice, but to inspire you to become your best self.
Absolutely. And you're spitting a lot of truth on this podcast, which is wonderful. Kind of going with the adage of overcoming obstacles. You've been talking about on the podcast that everyone does have obstacles. How do you help your athletes to overcome obstacles? Let's say using fitness, because that's what you're doing at the end of the day is helping to improve their fitness levels.
Well, the first thing you need to do every single day is move that's a given. And if your eyes are open, if you wake up, you need to get up. The very first thing everybody needs to do is have some type of a word, some type of focus, some type of goal for that day. Every single day when I was down at LaTech and when I was at Bama, I would wake up and I missed my family. I missed my gym, my facility, my athletes, and my role of being a leader. When I would wake up, I said to myself, let's go, let's get this party started. And people may look at that and say, yeah, well that's corny or that's not me, but that's what helped me. If I was going to be away and if I need to wake up early and if I need to live this day, why not make it my best day?
There's a point in everyone's life that we're going to be unable to do what we're doing right now. And guess what, you and I were on this call, we're on this podcast and we're able to, so we're taking advantage. So, basically this day is going to be a great day because we're going to choose to make it great. Whenever I'm working with my athletes, I tell them if you're up, make it count, make account, be where your feet are focused on what you're doing right now and punch the day right in the mouth, because you're either going to be a nail or you're going to be a hammer. And I like being around hammers and my best groups, every single workout, every single day. What time slot do you think is the best workout group? Is it the 6:00 AM or do you think the groups get better as the day goes on still? What do you think?
would say 6:00am because I think that starts the day off right. It sets the tone, and it gets you awake and working out and being able to accomplish things you want to do for the rest of the day.
I agree. And what happened was when I initially started to train the teams at my current school a lot of times coaches, they said let's get these younger guys in with the older guys. Let's intermingle these athletes, so they learn what we're about. And I stopped him. I'm like, no, we teach them. I teach that as soon as they enter the program, they know what I expect. They know it, and the expectations are high. So, basically what I did, I told the guys, I'm like, look, let's get all the elite guys there, people that never miss; the guys that love it. I want to get them in the very first group. So we have the energy, we have the top guys who want to be there and basically we'll get them in. And I know they're going to have a great group. They're going to have a great lift and that's going to kickstart their entire day. In theory, a lot of guys were like, well, the guys who missed, they probably miss because it's too early. So as the day goes on, maybe we give them the later times. And that's what we did. And the people who missed the early lifts, guess what they also did. They missed the later lists. So it's nothing that we're doing. It's not the time of day. It's something about them, the way they approach things, the way they approach challenge. They tend to be the guys that have excuses. When we encounter these groups, we try to reach out to them and see what's happening, why they're missing, how can we help them? So, I think that's something that I was able to learn from that from pinpointing what guys have it right away, looking at the guys that may struggle and find out what it is that they're lacking and how maybe we can encourage them and help them.
Was there a theme as far as for the people that didn't have the “it?” Was there a common theme as to why they didn't have the “it” and what it took to get them to have the “it?”
I think it really came down to the mental state of thinking. Things were not going to be easy. And a lot of times people know what they've done to get to where they're at and what that means is what you've done last month, last week, yesterday, that's, what's gotten you to where you're at right now. And maybe you were successful with doing that stuff. I don't know. As far as like say maybe your best might not look like my best, my best may not look like Mark's best. But ultimately all our prior experiences has gotten us to where we're at. And a lot of these guys, they get in, they have a rude awakening when they find out, guess what? What's gotten you here. Isn't going to keep you here. It may not help you thrive here and you need to reboot. So, I tell them, you need to reset, reboot and redo. Okay? So whatever you're failing at right now, you need to reset yourself. You need to reboot, get some fire and we need to find a way to win. And ultimately we try to map out a plan for them to help them. And they need to realize that life is hard. College is hard. Being a professional is hard. Guess what if you're called doctor? That means you put a lot of work in, they're not calling every one doctor. They're not calling everyone attorney, teacher, coach, because it takes work. So ultimately a lot of these guys just need to learn what it takes to take that next step.
Absolutely. And I think that's going to resonate for a lot of people listening to the podcast. But I did also want to say that sometimes you can work hard at something, but just not be right for the position or what you're doing. And you need to kind of shift and find what you're meant to do as well.
Yes. And that's a great point. A lot of times people equate working hard with automatically winning. Do you think the national championship game would, would you agree that when Alabama played Ohio state that both teams work exceptionally hard? Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah, of course. You don't get to those games without working hard, but ultimately just because you work hard, doesn't mean you win. And I often hear coaches or parents describe their kids as being good kids and hard working. Ultimately, I always ask them, well, isn't it the expectation that you work hard, that you're a great guy. That's part of being a success, but just because you win or lose that day, doesn't ultimately dictate who you are individually or as a team. So, basically you made a great point Cam by stating that just because you work hard, maybe doesn't mean you're going to win, but it doesn't mean you should discontinue working hard. It should inspire you to maybe even change your course. Maybe find something else or maybe in other ways to win, because what you're doing may have some attributes or components that can help lead you to winning, but you're just falling short. So, I think it's very important to be around folks that can help you decide, like maybe what areas you're working hard at, but maybe not helping you reap the most reward. And maybe you just have to change your course up a bit.
Yeah, absolutely. Now you are the director of sports performance at Albright college. Can you let them know what you're responsible for, being the director?
Yeah, so I work with 14 varsity sports. So I really have contact with all the teams, all the athletes, both men and women's teams. I work with all the coaches directly and I build, I create, I implement, I track everything from designing the workout plans to the recovery. I assist in helping them formulate ways to improve their health as far as your diet workouts, everything. So I'm really all in, in almost every aspect of what they're doing. So I got to plan around their practices. I have an assistant, who's also an athletic trainer. She helps me, she does an awesome job and I really get to mentor her. I train our interns and I have my hands tied into almost everything there as far as athletics.
For the people that want to be able to buy your book or catch you on your podcasts, can you let the listeners know how they can do that?
Yes. So, my book is called, “Why Not Me?” and it's authored by myself, Jason Brader. You can go onto Amazon.com and purchase that book. This book isn't only for people who are suffering from addiction, people that are put themselves into maybe bad situations. It's not only for them. You could be an athlete, you could be a business person. You could be somebody who's struggling in life or at a crossroads that just needs a little punch in the arm. Maybe need some advice and wants to learn some techniques on how to dig yourself out of a pit. So don't feel that you can't purchase it because you're not suffering from maybe addiction. I think it's a great book, a great purchase for anybody who wants a punch in the arm and wants to find ways to win.
And your Why Not Me podcast? Is that available on all your favorite pod catchers?
Yes. Yep. So, you can go on Apple, you can go on to this one, what's this called? This is the podcast. So basically, every single podcast service steps, or you can go anchor all the major podcasts you can go on and that's also titled Why Not Me?, and we talk about a lot of top ranking and conditioning to my book, different things that have happened to me and some of my guests and their lives. It’s really inspiring. It's a great podcast and it's a lot like this where you get a lot of people on that are inspiring, that are hardworking and want to help you win.
Jason, I want to thank you so very much for being on the podcast today. I think people listening to this podcast are going to be able to take a lot of great information on, how to make their life better and to also start to say, why not me? This has been Jason Brader on the Lebert Fitness podcast. It has been a pleasure speaking with you and I certainly hope to have you on the podcast again.
You bet man; it’s been awesome. Thanks, Cam.
Key Takeaways From This Episode:
Contact Jason Brader at:
- Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jasonbrader21/
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/fasst21/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/fasst21?s=20
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