NASM CPT Podcast

NASM-CPT Podcast - Encore Presentation: Jake Olson

National Academy of Sports Medicine
National Academy of Sports Medicine
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NASM Master Instructor and host of the NASM-CPT Podcast, Rick Richey is joined by special guest Jake Olson. In 2017, Jake inspired the sports world as the long snapper for the USC football team. While extra points in a football game aren't usually a big deal, this one was as Olson is legally blind. But that wasn't the start of his inspiring journey and it certainly isn't the end. Richey and Olson talk about the cancer that took his eyesight, his journey with USC, what inspired him to become an NASM-CPT, and much more!

Rick Richey is a NASM-CPT, CES, PES, and Master Trainer.




Rick Richey 01:38

Welcome to the NASM-CPT podcast. My name is Rick Richie. And today I'm joined with a special guest, who His name is Jake Olson. And you may have seen him on ESPN because I saw a little clip on ESPN about him years ago, when he was the long snapper for the USC Trojans and listen it does your opinion about USC doesn't come into play here has nothing to do with anything. But this man is incredible.

Jake, there's something really unique about Jake as a long snapper. And as an athlete is that Jake Olson is blind. I'm going to let him share his story a little bit about when that happened and and give us a little information. But here's what's also fascinating and one of the reasons we connected with him is that Jake just passed his certified personal trainer course within ASM. And now he's a certified personal trainer. So congratulations on that, Jake.


Thank you, Rick. Yeah, no, one of my one of my favorite things that I hear from people probably one of the favorite thing to hear from people is when I'm traveling, especially in the Midwest, you know, there's a bunch of Notre Dame Irish fans over there and they always go you know, like I'm, I'm a Notre Dame fan, but I love your story. So collectively, group all college football fans together and be the point where everyone gets along. So that's, that's awesome.

Rick Richey 03:01

Yeah, trust me as an Alabama fan. I don't have any friends outside of the state. So


that is true. That is true. It's it's good to hear voice to Rick. I I heard a lot of it while studying for the test. So it's good to hear it more now. afterwards.

Rick Richey 03:17

That's awesome, man. Thanks, dude. Thanks for being on this. I really appreciate it. I remember uh, scrolling through and seeing that you would post it on Instagram, a photo you're holding up your your certification, you're the certificate. Yeah. And I was like, That's Jake also.


No, man, I was I was so pumped. Um, and we'll get to it later on. But it's something that I wanted to do after graduating college and you know, the pandemic hit and it's like, here I am kind of at home not being a travel kind of wondering what to do in time and I was like, why not? You know, why not spend the necessary time now to study and get this degree? So here we are.

Rick Richey 03:56

I think that those two words probably exemplify your life thus far, which is why not


why does that is true um, you know, we can I can, I can kind of get the Cliff's Notes version for, for everyone who read my story needs a little refresher. But when I was eight months old, I were born with a rare for my cancer called retinal blastoma. And it was in both my eyes, when the doctors found it, they'd kind of found it late to the point where it had progressed in my left eye to a point where we couldn't really treat it.

And the fear with retinal blastoma is that it does exist in the retina of the eye. And so it can easily move from the retina through the optic nerve into the brain and then from there to the rest of the body. So in the instances where you can't treat it, and they don't feel like they can contain the cancer, the removal of the eye then becomes necessary.

So you do remove the eye, you do remove the cancer by removing the eye but again, obviously you leave the child sightless. Then given that, obviously, they got their eyes so they took out my left eye when I was just maybe about one years old and then when I was well, we are actually were able to find it in my right eye, it was, it was only about half as bad in my right eye. So we did treat cancer and beat the cancer my right eye. And it went away for a couple years. But unfortunately, it'll be years later it did come back. And that started just a cycle in my life of that cancer coming back, finding it and coming back fighting and coming back.

By the time I was 12 years old, that cancer came back eight times. And so at the age of 12, we came back in the fall of 2009. And the doctors unfortunately, told me as a little kid, that I was in the same situation, as I was when I was a baby, that we couldn't treat the cancer anymore, you know, I'd maxed out on chemo and axon radiation, and therefore, we had no, we had no more options to treat this cancer. And so, the option left, as I mentioned before, was the removal of the AI, which would save my life, you know, would remove the cancer and cure me of the cancer, but obviously, would leave me permanently blind.

By taking my only I left. And so that's what happened. And it was devastating news, you know, as you can imagine, it's pretty frustrating, just right. Not only thinking about living the rest of my life without sight, and the scary uncertainty of that, but also the fact that, you know, as a 12 year old, I spent my entire life fighting this thing, you know, constantly be in the hospital and trying to make sure this never happened. So to be told at the end of the day it was going to happen was just was very frustrating.

But as you mentioned, I did not let that stop me, I remember kind of coming home from the hospital that day after losing my eyesight and really having a having a moment where I said, Okay, you know, there's, there's really two ways I can come through this now. And that is sit here and sit on this couch and feel sorry for myself and think about all the cool things I could and would have done if I never lost my eye. But, you know, here I am blind now. So I'm gonna have to forfeit all my hopes and dreams. But that's not how I wanted to live my life. You know, no one's ever satisfied. Taking that road. But the the alternate row, which is, hey, this is going to be tough. I'm not going to sugarcoat anything, this is going to be really going to have to relearn how to pretty much do everything.

But that doesn't mean I have to give up on living a life that's meaningful, doing the things that I love, which includes playing sports, and being a good student and having fun with my friends. And little did I know at that time exercising and so you know that that definitely was something I took upon myself to go down that road and go through the frustrations and the learning curve, but knowing that it would be worth it at the end of the day. And that's what would lead me down to live a satisfying life. And so that's what I did. And started playing football or playing golf again, went to high school, remained a straight A student and started playing high school football my junior year.

We can kind of get into that a little later. But you know, ended up playing long after my junior and senior year for varsity. Here in orange Lutheran in California. And my senior year after after graduating, you know, I kind of at the age of 12 when I was with my site Coach Carroll had brought me in and that's where you saw your story. ESPN. Right? So keeping in connection with USC, by the time I was graduating high school, they they offered me a walk on spot on the Trojan football team. So that's where I played four years of college bowl. No man that had just felt so good.


Yes, yeah, it did. I mean, it was it was funny. You know, Errol was there when he brought me in. And you know, it's an awesome experience at the age of 12. And I'm still good friends with Carol today. But nice. He left the next year to go up to Seattle. So then Lync comes in and you know, it's kind of okay, Lane was awesome to me. But you know, it wasn't it wasn't Coach Carroll and things kind of change.

And then Kiffin was left after three or four years and then Sarkeesian came in, and that by that time, I'd start playing high school football. And so, you know, here we are a few coaches removed, ever loved me at USC still, but since I did start playing high school football interesting, interestingly enough, they had to see me as a recruit, you know, I was under all the bylaws of the NCAA, that any other high school football player was so by the time I was up there at a practice as a recruit my senior year, Coach archeon came up to me, he's like, hey, you know, he had come to plenty of our games, because you played in the training league here in California.

There's there's so much talent, so he'd seen me snap, and you know, it wasn't good Stanford. So he said, Hey, you know, are you planning to come to USC? And I said, there's obviously no other place I'd want to go. He said, Well, I don't see a reason why you wouldn't play football, if you can. And as soon as he said, Oh, yeah, there's no way there's no other there's no other school. There's no other way I want to experience my college career. So

Rick Richey 09:27

it's awesome. And you know, what else is awesome is that you just listed a bunch of coaches that have also cycled through after leaving UFC, UFC to go to Alabama to coach so I'm like, oh, no, that guy Oh, no, that guy. I didn't. I didn't like him so much when they're USA but when they came to Alabama, I was like, yes. Dude, I want to ask a question. Just real quick. I'm sorry to interrupt, but I want to get to some things but I have to ask a question.

As a parent of a 12 year old, right, so I've got kids. And before I get into I want to talk about, like your Instagram stories, because I think some of them are absolutely hysterical. I want to ask about the uncomfortable conversations with a blind man. And then I want to get into to the fitness stuff and the lifting and things like that. And I want to, I want to talk about it. But I want to ask a question just as a parent. And, and I'm sure you've, you've had a conversation with your parents about this.

So what was it like, as a parent, that had to be a part of this decision making process? And then they have to learn along with you? What it's like to be blind to be without sight to care, and help and support somebody? You know, I It's hard for me to put myself in your shoes. But it's it's hard for me to put myself in your, in the parent shoes as well.


Yeah, well, obviously, you know, I don't have kids. And you know, I say this a lot. When people ask that question, like, I, to be honest with you, I can imagine what they are, we're going through, have been through in some regards, I think, honestly, what I went through was probably easier just because I'm in my body, I'm in my shoes, I kind of have the ability to choose my attitude, and to know that I'm going to be okay, because I'm just going to continue to push forward in their shoes, you know, they don't have control on me, right.

So they don't know how I'm gonna react, they don't know how my life is gonna be, you know, if I'm gonna end up depressed or if I'm gonna, you know, quit on life. I don't know what they were thinking. And I think that stress is something that I can't even comprehend. You know, I don't have kids, but obviously, you know, you said you do. And as a parent, you know, you care about your child more than anything, right? You just want to protect them and love them. And from early stage, they kind of had to give that up, as you know, the baby had cancer, and it's like, okay, this is out of my control.

And I'm going to love him and try to protect me as best as I can. And then, you know, as a 12 year old to see, now, this worst case scenario come about? Yeah, I can't imagine it to be honest with you. And but one of the reasons why I didn't want to continue to push forward was for them, you know, just so that, you know, they could smile at me while I was playing football out there.

And just live in a life that, you know, they can sleep peacefully at night saying, You know what, you know, we, we fought as hard as we could, even though it wasn't the end result we necessarily wanted, like, nothing's changed. And here he is living life to the fullest. And so, you know, that's, that's a great question and something that hopefully I never have to experience. But you know, it is something that again, I don't even want to think about sometimes.

Rick Richey 12:41

No, I understand, man. And, you know, I didn't want to think about it. And given the opportunity hearing you talk about it, just it just twisted my heart a little bit and I wanted to just inquire about it. Now let's let's get into some lighter material. Mainly, Look, dude, I love your Instagram stuff. You You're not shy about pointing out that you are blind.

One of the things that you do on these Instagram Stories is you know, there's the the DOS AQIS guy who is the most interesting man in the world. And so you're doing the spoof with the most interesting blind man in the world. And one of the things is you in a car kind of stopping and going and bumping forward and backwards. And that says, the blind spot in his car runs from bumper to bumper.


Yeah, I love I love. I love we got a lot more coming for that. But yeah, I love just kind of making, making light of situations and having fun with it. You know, one of my favorite quotes in life is you can't take life too seriously. Otherwise, you'll never make it out alive. And so you know, having having fun with things and you know, enjoying just the funny things out there. I mean, that's, that's what I love to do. So what 30 minutes is awesome. So yeah, check it check it out. We got a lot more coming. And it's um, it totally can make some people's days.

Rick Richey 14:04

I think it will and the tagline stay sided, my friend. That's awesome. I want to talk just real quick, for a couple reasons. One, it's almost as a preference as an apology up front. If I say something that doesn't land, right. And and I think that you've experienced this so often that you took a page out of Immanuel ochos book where he does the uncomfortable conversations with a black man, which by the way, I had never seen until you pointed it out on your IG page.

And then I went through and watched about half a dozen of those which are incredible. So shout out to Emanuel Octo for doing that. But then you did something which was uncomfortable conversations with a blind man and discuss some of the things that pop up that people say and you know, unintentionally But they say things that maybe they don't think about, or they don't consider as being maybe a little wrong.


Yeah, um, you know, again, I was kind of inspired by what he was doing. Because it, you know, there's so much of this is, you don't want to say the wrong thing, and you kind of want to walk on eggshells. And it's like, you know, for some people who just don't know, you don't want to, you don't want to condemn someone for doing something they just didn't know. And so let's just educate and kind of teach people hey, this is right, this is wrong.

And I appreciate everyone kind of just take it upon themselves to learn. And, you know, manual, Otto kind of did that with his and so I just want to do that with, with my, you know, how I live my life.

And so, you know, we talked about just things because I get all the time, you know, when people say, Are you blind or visually impaired, they don't know really what to call me or say, and, you know, I kind of point out there that one, you know, when people say, visually impaired, like, it doesn't really describe exactly what I'm going through.

There's lots of visually impaired people out there who have various ranges of sight, where a blind person who just is blind, you know, they can't see anything up, you're like, you can't see anything. I always liked that, too. I'm like, no, I lost my eyes, like, I don't have

That's not funny, but I'm laughing along with you, right?


It's kind of like, you know, like, how do you know, like, your eyes are the things that get you to see stuff, you don't have them. You know, there's there's no light perception, there's nothing but um, but other things, I think they're just important that, you know, I learned actually going into high school, I went through K through eighth grade.

So I knew all of my friends there after I went blind, my seventh grade year. So you know, I knew voices, I knew personalities, and people, everyone that was at my school at the high school was like, 1300 new kids. And one of the things I can realize right away is that you know, as a black person, you can't really make eye contact across a busy hall with your friend and kind of navigate over to the edge of the lockers and talk like, you kind of have to pick out voices and recognize voices and to be able to initiate a conversation.

If you don't, then you're just kind of waiting for someone else to initiate a conversation. So, you know, a couple of things I love talking about when when people ask me, you know, what's the hardest thing about being blind? It's like, you know, sometimes you have to kind of depend on others to just create and start a conversation with you. Especially, you know, they don't know you're there, right? Like, my best friend could be two lockers down. And I just don't know, he's there. Just because, you know, I've heard his voice and you know, I don't know who's who.

So that's something I kind of love talking about. Just, you know, go up to a blind person and let him know you're there. And let him know, you know, when you lead the conversation, and, you know, what do you do when you shake hands? I love in high school, too, because there's so many times it's walking down the hallway. You know, so gotta be like, what's up, Jacob, okay, and they put up their hand to give me a high five. Hang it off.

So you want like, I'm not I'm not trying to be rude, you know? But uh, but yeah, so you know, just like if you're hanging out Hi, Parker, hey, you know, shaking your hand or just, you know, using verbal cues, using your your voice to kind of just describe what you're doing or anything like that is always helpful, too. So there's a lot of interesting topics and you know, I love people go check it out.

Rick Richey 18:07

I'd love for people to go check it out, too. But now Now let's get into some of the fitness stuff. Listen, Jake, you're jacked, bro. You are jacked. And I remember seeing you with that sleeveless shirt and the shoulder pads, the UFC, UFC outfit, like the uniform and you are out there.

And I'm like, yo, that dude is yoked when you were jacked, bro. And you weren't like that? As a kid? Obviously, you were and blind going into it? What? What drew you to lifting like, when did you start doing it? And then how did you get so into it?


Yeah, so like I said, my high school. I'm going to my freshman year and sophomore year, I was always a tall kid too. So it's always kind of tall and lanky. And so my freshman sophomore year, I didn't really play football, I played golf, but I wanted to get back on the field and enjoy the game I love so much. And so kind of started lifting my junior year as a as I became a long snapper but didn't really know what I was doing.

And obviously the high schools strength that helped me but I really wasn't doing anything. You know, that was I was going to probably put on pounds. And when I got into USC, I had a conversation with a couple of the doctors at USC and they were just worried with, you know, may not be able to see getting hurt out there. And that kind of I took kind of offense to that where the fact is like you know me I just played two years of archery like I can do this.

But if you're looking at me and thinking this I want to I want to make the reality that if you tell that to anyone publicly and they look at me, they're gonna look at you side, I'd like that, that hit it hurt like you mean that guy, right? They're like Oh, and so I was very blessed to have a coach Coach at USC.

My freshman year thing was a Coach Nick, and he is one of the He is one of the best strength coaches I've ever been around, not the best, just a guy that fires you up. Once you get big, he just taught me the ropes at USC and set me up for four years, they're just really working hard in the weight room understanding how that translates into football, fuel, but just understanding how that could build your body, what to do with your diet.

I mean, he just really kind of laid it out and inspired me then to really want to learn more about it. And I found kind of the weight room to honestly be therapeutic. I, you know, being in there just lifting hard, taking your anger out on the weights, just you know, going through whatever's bothering you just taking it out there in the weight room, I can't picture or imagine a better outlet than that.

And so, really, just after I graduated again, I just wanted to help anyone else who was kind of going through a tough time just to find that outlet. And what I want to do is obviously be you know, educated in what I was telling people and be you know, help them in the best way possible. That's why I really wanted to get my CPT and so I love I love doing it, man. It was it was the easiest school I've ever been not that was easy, but just was you know, something I'm so passionate about that I love learning about, hey, you know, what, what does this do?

You know, the kinetic chain, like, how does that impact this? You know what, what kind of represents you kind of was going back I can see in my programming at USC like oh, okay, so this is why I was doing the medicine ball after doing the bench, you know, like stuff?

Rick Richey 21:21

Yeah. Let me ask you, what, what, what made you what made you decide to go with NSM? What was what? Did somebody recommend it? Was it a strength coach, you hear about it? What was that? What drew you to that?


Pretty much it was, you know, just everyone was, hey, this is the best this is, you know, the best laid out and the most reputable, so just just go with them.

And I researched it and did the stuff and yeah, definitely NSM is, is the world renowned, you know, strength, a strength program out there. So I loved it. It was it was awesome. I mean, again, your guys's videos and the book and just everything kind of about it was was so easy to follow along.

And just really the work you put in the mountain you want to study was what you're going to get out of it, which I find really, I like, I guess funny because that's exactly how the weight room works. You know, like the the work you put into lifting is what you're gonna get out.

So the no difference with any, like some type of some college courses and even high school courses, like, you're just kind of no matter how hard you try, like you just can't get it in a like you just can't get the grade you watch is too difficult or just set up in a way where the work doesn't reflect the grade. That's not the case, like the work you put in to learn about this stuff. You're going to get out there.

Rick Richey 22:34

And I love that how do you plan on on using this new education? Are you doing this? For personal betterment? Are you doing it to apply it to yourself? Are you doing it to work with with other athletes? Like what's what's your goal here?


Yeah, I mean, definitely apply to myself. But yeah, no, I mean, I definitely want to help anyone I can, you know, there's there's definitely people in my life that have already started help training.

You know, I don't know, if I'm ever gonna work out like a fitness center. You know, I think it'd be fun. It's something I could do. Obviously, the fitness centers have been closed for a while here in California, they just reopen up kind of briefly here. So we'll see if it lasts like last time.

But definitely, I just want to help people in any way possible. You know, I think there's so much positivity and confidence that goes into putting work in your body and taking care of your body and seeing the return. You know, I think Coach Nick always told me the weights are your best friends, they'll never lie to you, you know, like, you can either do any. And the work you put in your body is an amazing thing, as you know, like what you put into it, it's going to show returns, you know, you're not going to do bicep curls and be like, Oh man, like my biceps aren't getting stronger. Now they're going to get stronger.

Like there's no other in a system, right? Like you do it, you do it right, you're gonna get returns. And so I just want to help as many people as I can, you know, I really do. It's something I'm really passionate about, as you can probably tell, and so what that looks like just coaching 10 to 15 clients on the side, if that's becoming a full strength coach one day, I'm not really sure to be honest with you, Rick, but I'm really passionate about I just want to kind of start building it from the ground up and see where it takes me.

Rick Richey 24:08

And I think that's incredible. And you know what, that's the thing with a lot of education, right? I do an education I go to school, I do this. I don't we don't know what we're gonna do. But, but we do it. This one's a little bit different though. Getting your certification for personal training. You know, I got mine because I was I've got a job as a personal trainer.

But as an educator, dude, I see people all the time I see there's not a class or a workshop that I teach for the the live education for the content that doesn't have an attorney in it doesn't have an accountant of some sort doesn't have you know, they come people come from different places. And I asked him, you know, like, you got a pretty solid good paying job.

Are you are you gonna be a personal trainer? And most of them say, No, I just wanted to get certified. Yeah, I just want to learn I'm passionate about exercising, and I wanted to learn more about this how they did it.


Yeah. Well, I mean, there's so many again, there's so many benefits to working out. And we see that now it's just such a premium on having a healthy body. That, you know, I think that it's so it's so important that people do realize what their body can do. And in the work that you put in your body, what what kind of returns it can give you for a long, healthy life.

Rick Richey 25:26

I got a question about something that you did, I guess it was recently about raising money doing do an event to raise money for a research study for people, I guess, young kids with retinoblastoma is, is that what happened? Can you talk me through this kind of setup? What you did? What what did you contribute that helped to raise money? And what are they doing in this research study?


Yes, so this is something that kind of landed in my lap as a graduating college, and honestly, one of my proudest moments in life. So when I was going blind in 2009, at the age of 12, I told you, you know, the doctors came to us and said, there was there's no more treatment options, right.

And that was true. However, there was a device that was in the the making of my doctor was working on at the time, it was just this little device that they were put on the AI that would give non systemic chemo directly to the the tumor. And unfortunately, it would just, it was way too early in the in the process, you know, they just couldn't use it on me, for safety reasons. And so, you know, I had to lose my eyesight, but I kind of lost track of it, obviously, you know, I didn't really have to go to the doctors a lot anymore after taking on my eyes, just because it can't just completely gone, you know, and so, here I am, 10 years later, pretty much, eight years, whatever it is later.

And I wanted to use my pro day at USC, the benchpress version, you know, part of the Pro Day to raise money for just a cause. And I thought to be really cool, obviously was given what I went through, it could go to retinoblastoma, so I contacted the doctors and researchers that, you know, I grown up with and said, hey, you know, these are a great organization that helps kids or does this or that the other and come to find out that this device was it is ready.

And at the time it had been used on two kids in experimental emergency use up in Canada, is shown some really great results. And so they were wanting to raise money to start a clinical trial up at SickKids in Toronto. And so I took it upon myself then to raise money through my benchpress you know, every rep would raise so much money, depending on how many people pledge and stuff. And so we were able to raise close to $100,000 to go to that clinical trial, which was really cool just to see how many people were able to support me and be part of this.

And sure enough, it was this summer that finally they were able to get everything, all the paperwork done. And they were able to start treating kids in June. And they were actually able to the first day they were able to treat with a little 12 year old boy who was kind of in the same situation I was in great promises shown. It's it's the tumors are responding, and it's saving his eyes. And it's saving countless of other kids eyes up there. And that in that clinical trial.

So we're working on to get commercialized, hopefully in the next couple of years here, but it's going to be a really cool new treatment to make sure that again, there's never a little boy or girl that's in the situation I was bringing on.

They don't have a treatment option anymore, that this is going to really be the end all of retinoblastoma taking kids eyes, which is going to be so cool.

Rick Richey 28:38

Oh, God. Bless you, man. That is so absolutely incredible, dude. So you mentioned Toronto, so I do have to ask about Quebec. How's Quebec doing?


He's good. He's got my feet right here, man, but he's, uh, he's doing good. He he is the only person in my life that doesn't like the lifting he just did. He doesn't get it. Do what do you do at that bar? Like don't know.

Rick Richey 29:02

It's really funny. What breed what breed dog is quick, easy yellow. I thought so I had a black lab growing up. So when I saw the clips of him, I was like, Oh, what a beautiful dog man. Hey, talk us through Pro Day.

What is pro day like for what's pro day like for everybody? And then what's pro day like, for you? What were you were you able to, to compete or to participate? I think it's a word. I'm looking for it in the events that go that everybody goes through.


Yeah, so it's just kind of what you want it to do. Um, you know, it's, it's pretty, pretty chill. I mean, you know, obviously, you know, there's a lot of different NFL scouts that are there. You know, it's, it's definitely serious, but, you know, you're just putting your training into practice or, you know, into into action. And, you know, I was always pretty much just want to do the benchpress I, you know, I didn't want to kind of do anything else that day just because I was so focused on wanting to raise this money.

I was, uh, I was, I worked really hard for about, you know, eight weeks to really try to get my bench up. And so I was able to do 20 to 2517 times. So I, I wanted to, I wanted to get, but it was all good. I got 17 and it was it was fine.

Rick Richey 30:15

That's, that's fantastic, dude. That's it. I love it. Now, you've talked to us a little bit about football. But you you play golf, and I'm trying to figure that one out, because I'm awful at it. And I can see how bad I am at it.

So what to talk me through with you like, how does that how does that work with with your capabilities? I mean, I tell people all the time, if you are a millimeter off, when the face of the club hits a ball, 300 yards down the fairway, you could be 60 yards off?


Oh, yeah, no, it's true. Um, you know, growing up, that was one of my passions, love playing golf. And when I went blind, it was something that I wanted to continue to do, as I mentioned, just continue to do the things I love. And so Golf was one of those things, it was pretty difficult.

I went from a decent 12 year old golfer to a 12 year old who couldn't really make contact with the ball anymore. And it was starting from square one, you know, I had to learn how to make contact again, and then you know, eventually was okay, I hit a shot, good shot every once in a while, and then you know, more good shots and trying to stitch good shots together when I was playing. And, you know, started playing my cross off golf my freshman year and worked my way up.

And again, there was a lot of frustration, a lot of embarrassing moments out there, but just kept pushing forward because I, you know, I could see the potential I had. And eventually I did, you know, make Varsity my senior year and, you know, I haven't been playing as much in the pandemic, we actually are golf course, we got shut down for like two or three months.

So I was little I, you know, I, on a good day, now, you know, I can shoot in the low 80s. So that says really good, you know, trying to try and get back to where I can kind of shoot in the high 70s If I wanted to. So, you know, I'm definitely are way better than me.


Golfer, you know, I'm athletic build and really rip it out there. And it's something I really love pushing myself and just trying to become better every day. But what was interesting is, you know, your question, how I do it, you know, we could kind of talk it was interesting when I was reading, you know, the NSM book and chapter five at the Emmys talking about kind of motor learning.

And, you know, that's what it is, it really is just my nervous system, being able to understand what my body's doing, just feeling the motion of the swing, and just repeating that over and over again, with with the external feedback, obviously, I get from my dad and just, you know, feeling my club face hit the ball.

Okay, that that clubface was wide open, you know, what did I do there, China going through and just repeating that over and over and over again. Or I just have the consistent swing, and can just use the feel of you know, my body muscle memory, just to hit a sweet golf shot every time.

Rick Richey 32:59

I want to ask, I want to get just a little more information from somebody at a college level who has has taught motor learning, I'm fascinated by this. So I want to know, what is your talking about being out there with your dad, but, you know, how does it set up? Is somebody at the hole? And do they make noise? How do you know where to go and how far away you are?


Yeah, so I started when I when I went blind, I did start having someone tap on the flag stick when I was putting so I can kind of hear the distance and gauge my strength of you know, stroke with a putt to to get the ball there. But eventually it's become where I just walk off the plot you know, few cases 22 feet full uphill. And I just have to understand that feels finished.

And so you know, that goes along with chipping, obviously any full shots as to full swing, but you know, when around the green with chipping or putting it really is just my feel and understanding again, the how far I'm taking it back. And obviously the the velocity at which I'm swinging through.

Rick Richey 34:09

It's nice because a lot of times there are some big dudes that that can not hit a golf ball very far. And there are some little dudes like me, not like me, don't hit it like me, but they are small like me, and they can crank that ball. So a lot of it is about technique and the fact that you got the technique on top of it where you can make that those drives as pretty incredible.


Hot. Yes. And one of the things I kind of actually want to go ahead, go ahead. No, I say one of the things I kind of wanted to do now do I was I was looking after kind of getting my certificate. I forget what it's called, but SM does have a kind of a golf specialty kind of strength program there, don't they?

Yeah, yeah, yeah, the golf fitness specialist. Yeah.

So I was actually gonna maybe do that next

Rick Richey 35:00

Nice shout out to the golf fitness specialist, dude, we'd love to have you go through that. I think that I think you'd really enjoy it. And you could learn a lot about just kind of preparation for golf to not necessarily the game itself, like how it's done. But you know, it's kind of like our MMA conditioning specialist.

We're not teaching you how to fight MMA, but we're teaching you how to train as the way that MMA fighters train. So it's, it provides kind of the the preparation work to help golf athletes prepare, and do the strength conditioning, the performance, the mobility that you need in order to go out and play off.


Yeah, well, I mean, that's what I mean, that's really what it is. I mean, you look at, you know, I mean, Dustin Johnson, I think, is a freak of nature, regardless, but I mean, like, just the flexibility they have in their hips. I mean, that's, that's where you're getting a lot of the power, you know, it's not necessarily about the muscles in your arms or shoulders, or anything like that, but just kind of getting the body kind of disconnect and fire through.

Rick Richey 35:58

I love it. Man, I want to ask you a question about this. This is for everybody, everybody has these days. But how do you deal with the days that you just aren't feeling it?

Like, you know, the days that that you don't feel good the days that, you know, maybe there's some give down on yourself or down on down on the world? I don't know, how do you how do you deal with those days?


Um, you know, I talk a lot about in my speeches, you know, be part of it at the end is to answer that question directly is gratitude. You know, being grateful. You know, I tell people all the time that, you know, it's okay to be frustrated with your circumstance, it's okay to be angry with what's going on in the world or to you. You know, I think people that push those feelings down and say, it isn't okay to feel these things, you know, you're only digging a deeper hole for yourself. And so it's okay to feel those those feelings.

Let yourself feel those feelings. But where people get in trouble, myself included, is when you let that anger when you let the frustration, the will when you let the disappointment overwhelm your mind in your heart to a point then, where you become blind to the blessings you still do have in life. And so don't become blind to the blessings you have in life.

That's my advice to you. You know, there's always at least one thing to be grateful for. And the moment you can focus on those things, I promise you, you'll feel a burden be lifted off your shoulder almost immediately. You know, it's it's something that it's a choice.

And they're finding at USC actually was talking to some researchers there that gratitude is a choice. And, you know, it's, it's about taking the 10 seconds to just remind yourself, hey, My life sucks right now. But I'm grateful to have a better sleep and hey,

My life sucks right now. But hey, I'm grateful that I have a functioning body and can go lift and take out frustration on the weights at night time writing three things you're grateful for that happened during the day as well, you know, don't lose perspective on the good things and the things that aren't still exist in your life that you can be grateful for.

Not this set, not to push down those other feelings, but just to balance that out. And do realize that you are living a life that includes good things, and in those good things, you can make something out of it. 

Rick Richey 38:10

And I agree, it's not about trying to push down the stuff that is welling up in you, but it's about bringing up the positive stuff and and shifting your perspective and shifting your focus. And I think that's a great lesson to learn it's a great lesson to share and it's something that needs to be trained like anything else. You know, we Yeah, go ahead.


What's it that's what they're finding now is that that it is a skill it's not something that you know, you're not born with a certain amount of gratitude, you know, it's not like I'm more grateful than you are Rick but it is a skill and a choice that you are learning and developing your mind just like as a muscle so that when you do I love that I love the quote we change the way you look at things that things would look at change.

It's really what you're doing with your mind you are changing the way your mind perceives your reality and the world around you to the point where you can pick out the good and the things that in your in your life that you can be grateful for.

And the more you can do that the more you'll just realize it on a day to day basis you don't you don't even have to try it was like wow, I am so grateful that you know I have a spouse on coming home to that made me dinner like that just it's just something that is just going to come and flick in your in your brain that's just going to be mountain that makes my night.

Rick Richey 39:21

Yeah, there's a I'm going to I'm going to throw out a song, a lyric from the song and the only reason I probably know this song is because of this particular lyric in it. But there's, there's a it was a group called Sister Hazel. And I don't even remember what year that was or the name of the song.

But there was a part of the song that says if you want to be somebody else, change your mind. And I was like, Yeah, you can't be somebody else. You have to change your mind. And then I was like, No, that's the I think there's a little double meaning there. If you want to be somebody else.

You change your mind. You change your perspective. And then you are somebody else. It's all about how we see How we receive information how we perceive ourselves.

And so if we do want to be somebody else, we want to have that gratitude, we have to change our mind, we have to change our perspective, we have to reframe what's going on. And then through that practice, and that's why I talk, I talk somewhat regularly, even on this podcast about a daily practice something that you do on a regular basis.

Because we have to develop consistency in what we do in order to change. We know that Jake, from exercise, we know that from our studies, but to know that, or even to think about it, because it may not be something you think about that gratitude, that mindset, those are things that we have to do consistently, we have to create a daily practice before they become a consistent thing that we do without thinking about.


Well, that's why you know, it's like I said, good practice, just try it, try for a week or two, just at nighttime, literally just on your phone and notes or a piece of paper you keep on your bed, just you know, write down three things that you're grateful for that happened during the day.

And you'll be amazed at just like at the end of the two weeks, like how you just you focus on those things more, they just they they're in your mind, they're there in your in your psyche, and you just, they make your day better, because that's what you're focusing on.

Rick Richey 41:14

Alright, now we you talked about the bed side, which made me think of something else that I wanted to ask you about. This probably isn't so much recently with you being blind. But let me just say that, that over the past decade, there's been a lot of research that's come out about sleep.

And we know there's a lot of research about recovery, regeneration, restoring the body, post workout, things like that. And we know that sleep is a big part of it. Now my question to you is, I wake up in the middle of the night, maybe I go to the bathroom, sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night, and I think it's time to get up. And then I look and I see what time it is. And I go oh, I can go back to sleep. For you. That's a little bit different.

Now I know with Alexa and Siri and all that stuff. It's probably changed your life in those ways. But what was it like maybe before you could just ask the question, What time is it that that? Did that affect your so I'm just curious with this concept?


Yeah, no, I mean, I know not 24 is a thing and you know, to be honest with you, my sleep schedule can get pretty messed up sometimes. I so I mean, I definitely think there is something there. But yeah, I mean, it's it's they used to have these these, these watches that you'd wear you'd flip up and kind of feel the time it is and they I Love You know, before obviously all this digital stuff technology.

They always said crickets were the blind man's favorite best friend. Why? Because they all night outside. So, you know, there's there's probably some ways you can kind of tell what time it was, but I do remember one story.

I was in sophomore year of high school. I used to get up really early for high school probably like 545 So I was always groggy and you know waking up that early and going to high school and so I remember one one morning I got up I don't I guess I must have dreamed it was my alarm or something. I got up and I didn't hit the alarm clock to hear what time it was.

Or check my phone so I got a pullback was kind of a little tired. I was like huh, like he's usually obviously wanting to get up to eat when I get up. So I went in there I said, um, I took a high level bathroom and I came back inside and I checked my phone and it was like 1245 I'm like oh my in a nice snack.

Rick Richey 43:41

Yeah, I figured there was there. There probably moments like that where it was like, I don't know. I want to ask just a couple more questions before at before we wrap up a couple that I again, you've got the opportunity to meet some really cool people at several times trying to say USC, you probably heard me say UFC. You can tell where my perspective comes from a lot.

So there's a picture of you with V tour Bell Ford, and, and I thought that was awesome. And for those of you who don't know, he was a stellar MMA fighter that fought and the UFC promotion. How did you get to meet people like V Torre Belfort and then what are some of the Have you ever been starstruck with some of the people you got a chance to meet?


Oh, yeah, so you know, be tore code going back to coach Nick here. He trainees down in Miami at a facility on there that trains a lot of NFL guys offseason preparing for the Combine or you know, for their season and then a lot of MMA guys train down there as well. And so v4 is down there and he's just started training V tour and B tours son doggies.

Uh oh, I guess you reclassified but he's he's like a freshman in high school and So he used to start training to kind of bend down there and so it's he flew out here for the event that they're going to be doing a cool commercial gonna be doing with Mike Tyson so it was in LA and I always love to see Coach Nick when he's in town or when I whenever I go visit him but he was a Victorian he's such a cool guy really, really awesome.

Great competitor just really takes his his profession and his art seriously and wants to become a master. I can tell he has obviously but it's cool around me around those competitor guys. The only person I really was starstruck being around, where I kind of lost, you know, my train of thought, you know, kind of the the teenage girl being around the rock star, right, like, you're like, I'm gonna say this, this and this. You're like, Uh huh, it was Tiger.

Absolutely Tiger the first time. Oh, cool. Yeah, yeah. So I you know, I've, I've met Tiger a couple times since then, you know, we probably we have to get on play golf at some point. But, um, but the first time I met him, you know, I just was just being a golfer and understanding how hard the game of golf is to realize what that guy did is to master golf and his profession to that extent. I in my opinion, I don't think anyone's ever done anything in their respective sport. The way Tiger hasn't golf, like you're just not supposed to be able to do that in golf, like, you know, you see a sense tiger says Tiger, you know, got injured and everything and he hasn't been as dominant as he was.

Like, you saw Dustin Johnson tried to try to take that role. He was there he's there he's not he's there. He's not you know, you've seen you've seen Rory tried to do that he's there is gonna be the next big thing that he's not trying to think of the guy down from from Texas. I can do his name. He won the masters.

Okay, I think there's name right now. But, you know, there's a different golfers have come and try to take Tiger spot and they'll they'll do it, you know, for a year, maybe a year and a half, and then they just kind of go away. And that's what golf is. I mean, that's literally what golf is. So for Tiger to do what he did, I'm telling you, it's almost it's above human man. Like, there's there's something there that's just like, oh my gosh,

Rick Richey 47:19

That's awesome. I remember the first time probably the only time I've ever been starstruck is a is extra no rip.

Rick Richey 47:29

I saw so I was a young martial artist, and I did Chinese martial arts and I was a Chinese I did Chinese acrobatics. Okay, one day, I was in Los Angeles at a courtyard at the montage hotel. And Jackie Chan walked by. And I was talking on the phone to my wife and I went I think Jackie Chan block by Jackie Chan's walk by and she goes, Oh, that's cool. And wait, stop talking. And now I'm so sorry. I should never have said Stop talking.

But I just needed. I needed this moment. I needed it. So I even talk to him. He just walked by me. So I was that was probably the only time I've ever been in Star Trek starstruck. Couple. Just last question. Well, probably some something stemming off of it. If you have time. It's, we've been at it for about 48 minutes. If you got a couple more minutes, I got a couple more questions. Let's go. All right. Cool. One is question about balance.

As you know, NSM talks about balance within every one of the phases of the op T model. How does how does being blind affect your balance, I've had the opportunity to train people that were deaf, and and balance is seriously affected, and those that are deaf, so but you know, we'll progress challenges with people by saying for them, having them close their eyes, and then all the sudden something that seemed very simple with balance becomes incredibly difficult. What is that like for you?


Yeah, you know, I think, you know, I was blessed to see for 12 years. So I think that's kind of, you know, helped my equilibrium a lot. But with my ears, you know, just kind of, and just my feel, you know, I think I really do have a great proprioception in the fact I really do you have good balance, you know, is it great?

No, can it be trained? Yeah, that's actually something that I took from from from getting mine certificate where I've started implementing more balanced and I've gotten a lot better at it, to be honest, but it is something that.

Yeah, I know, a lot of blind people actually do struggle with and but for me, you know, I just I really, I God blessed me with some great ears, you know, I really do use them for almost everything. And it is something that just being able to kind of hear how big a room is, you know, using directionally to orient myself and definitely with balance as well.

Rick Richey 49:48

That's really interesting. Do you do you did you take anything from the NSM coursework, like as you're going through it and you're studying it, kind of like you mentioned with balance your employment that a little bit more, are there some other things that that you kind of went through in the text and studied and was like, I don't think I've ever done that. Let me give that a try.


Um, you know, to be honest with you, I, you know, obviously, as I mentioned, going into freshman year college work with Coach Nick, you know, the number one thing was to kind of blow up as much as possible, right was to, to to have hypertrophy. That's the first time I ever learned that word was my freshman year of college. I didn't really understand it too much, but it was just like, Okay, let's get the muscle as big as it can hypertrophy hypertrophy.

There you go. Yeah. I, you know, I and I loved it, you know, and it's honestly one of the, probably the, my favorite way to lift still. But, you know, I always did want to kind of add more strength to it. And I kind of understood how they, you know, work a little harder, or, you know, load the load the bar up a little more less reps, you know, kind of accent nervous system in a different way.

But I never really understood that max strength was, you know, as we say, you know, one one to five reps, you know, for success like that there is an actual formula there of like, Hey, this is actually if you want to max you know, your your strength out, you really do you have to train that way, I'm never trained that way. And honestly, I'm probably going to start training that way, in about three weeks, I kind of really wanted to what was cool, on a side note here, because gyms were closed down for three months, I really wasn't able to do a lot.

So in that time, at the near the end of it, once I knew I was going to have the means start working out again, I really implemented the stabilization part of NSN the opp. So I was ready to kind of go again, make sure that nothing happened in those those three months that was going to affect me, I know, I'm not going to go load the bar up and do what I was doing before the three months, which I think probably will save me an injury that otherwise I probably would have would have known.

And that's something that I think we need to probably tell people, once they start working out after this pandemic over that your body wasn't where it was, when it was going into this like you do need to kind of test your system to make sure that everything's good to go once you want to start, you know, working out how you used to.

Rick Richey 52:11

Now that's a that's a great point that we really do need to point out like if you're going to go back to your your high intensity classes and you know, your your workouts on your own. Don't think that you're gonna pick up where you left off. That's just not how it's gonna work. Yeah. Yeah, man. So I want to one more time just let you know. I know you've been doing stabilization stuff for a few months, but you still look jacked, bro.


You man, I was one of the things man like April and man Oh, man, do you like I'm just I know if you know atrophy doesn't work that fast. But I still as you know you don't lift in the waist. You start you start your mind starts playing games on my biceps.

Rick Richey 52:56

Yeah, it's true. Yeah, like end up like curling the edge of the couch and stuff. Watching me a whole note

Rick Richey 53:05

Jake, it's been a pleasure having you on this show. Man. I appreciate you so much sharing your story, explaining what goes on day to day background history, but also like just the opportunity to talk about sports and exercise and lifting and that stuff. Man sharing that with us has been fantastic. Yeah, man.


I appreciate this. Rick, it was it was awesome. Like I said, it's the one of the one of the only interviews I've ever done that I was able to talk about this. so stoked to do it.

Rick Richey 53:37

Man. Well, I appreciate it. I'd love to meet you at some point. So if you're ever in New York City, or if are you based in Southern California,


yeah. But you know, I do travel a lot to speak. So um, I definitely had stuff that was in New York that got rescheduled for next year. So I know I'm coming out there. Well, my

Rick Richey 53:53

friend reach out if you're in the city, I'd love to meet up with you if I'm ever planning on coming out there. And same thing, there are conferences and things like that that tend to take place and if I'm out in Southern California, I'll give you I'll give you a little tap on the shoulder and see if if you're available to meet. absolutely appreciate you guys. It's been awesome, everyone. Thank you so much for listening. This is the NSM CPT podcast.

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National Academy of Sports Medicine

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