Monday, June 15, 2015

David Nolan…and the Two-Minute Drill

David Nolan capped off his college swimming career at Stanford with two more performances for the record books.

At the Pac-12 Championships he won the 200 IM in 1:40.07—the best Stanford, Pac-12, NCAA, and American mark in this event.

David and his backstroke.
Photo courtesy of
The previous NCAA record (1:40.49) was set in 2009 by Bradley Ally (University of Florida) and Ryan Lochte owned the American mark (set in 2007) at 1:40.08.

Oh, and this win made David the only swimmer in Pac-12 history to sweep this race in all four years.
Then came the NCAA Championships and David took it to another level, winning the event with a 1:39.38 time. He is the first man to swim the 200 IM in a sub-1:40 time.

By the way, just to put all of this in perspective, this is the same swimmer who won eight titles in one of his first meets as a freshman at Stanford.

And in his senior year in high school in 2011 he swam the 200 IM in 1:41.39 (another record) and this time would have won the NCAA title that year. He held five national records and was an All-American in six strokes.

At the end of his freshman year he was named Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, Pac-12 Championships Swimmer of the Meet, and took six first place finishes in the Pac-12 Championships in helping 

Stanford to its 31st consecutive Pac-12 title. He also had seven All-American honors at the NCAAs.
In total, David leaves Stanford with 17 All-American honors, three school records, and nine Pac-12 titles.

I sat down recently with David and he shared his story.

PJ: Why do you like swimming?

David: I like racing a lot. It’s pretty neat that you can control what you are going to do at the end of the season. I like a sport when you mange yourself in the pool and weight room. You figure out what will make you as good as possible at the end of the year.

PJ: As a senior in high school you had what is called the best swim in high school history when you broke your own national record in the 200 IM by nearly two seconds at 1:41.39. This seems to be one of your best races. Why do you like the 200 IM?

David: It definitely was the best cause it was the national record, in high school, that is. The 200 IM is a combination of all strokes. I like how it takes all strokes in. I work with the mid-distance group and just change the stroke, rotate through all strokes by the end of the week.

PJ: What was different in your training this season that may have helped you to set these new
David starting the race at the 2012 Pac-12 Championships.
Photo courtesy of

David: Just being really into training all year. Being super-focused literally doing all you can do. I
was way more conscious and diligent this year. The goal was in the back of my mind. I wanted to get better and was going to do what I needed to do. And it worked.

I was diligent. I ate healthy and worked really hard. I was very focused in training as opposed to going in and just swimming the laps. The specific thing that changed was my schedule. I lifted in the afternoon and it made it easier to lift heavy. That’s really the only thing that changed.

PJ: Did you know you were on pace to beat the record during the races?

David: Sometimes I feel good when racing and this felt pretty good. Although, I did not know I was on pace for the record. I didn’t see it coming. It was pretty exciting. I didn’t know I had the record until it was over and I heard it on the loudspeaker.

The second time, I was fully shaved and ready to go. I was excited to race and it worked out.

PJ: The second mark your set put a little more time between you and the rest of the pack. How long do you think it will stand?

David: I think it will definitely be broken. Maybe even next year. Records are set to be broken. It’s what everyone aims for…there’s not even a question they are going to win. Then they think about what else can I do? It helps you go even faster.

PJ: What’s next?

David: Making the Olympics…that’s my one and only goal. This is always every kid’s dream…to compete in the Olympics. I will stay at Stanford and train. I am mostly focused on the long course. I haven’t figured out yet what events I will focus on.

PJ: What is your best memory swimming?

David: This year in the Pac-12 championships when the team swam fast all-around. That is my favorite memory.

PJ: What athlete has had the most impact on you?

David: Tiger Woods is my role model. I like playing golf and it’s so cool that I went to the same school as him. His domination in the game of golf is pretty inspiring. My family has helped me out greatly, but he is my athletic inspiration.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Drew Jackson…and the Two-Minute Drill

Editor's note: On June 9, 2015, Drew Jackson was selected in the fifth round of the MLB First-Year Player Draft by the Seattle Mariners. Drew was the first Stanford player selected in the draft.  

Professional baseball may have another Jackson brother in its ranks in just a few short weeks. Baseball’s first year player draft runs June 8-10 and the Jackson family in Orinda, CA, will be watching closely to see if Drew gets the call.

Currently, Drew’s brother, Brett, plays center for the San Francisco Giants’ AAA Sacramento River Cats. He was hitting .277 through May 27 before being put on the seven-day disabled list.

Drew turning the double play against UCLA
on April 26. Photo courtesy of Bob Drebin/ 
Drew, a junior shortstop at Stanford, finished his season leading the team with a .320 batting average and was second in runs scored with 27. He also led the Cardinal during fall ball with a .358 average. He spent two summers playing for the Cotuit Kettleers in the prestigious Cape Cod League.

I sat down with Drew recently and he shared his story.

PJ: You broke the hamate bone in your hand earlier in the season. Tell me about it.

Drew: It’s a weird injury. It was nagging me before I broke it. I fouled off a curve ball and felt something wasn’t right. Next thing I knew I was picking up a bat and it was unbearable. I was playing again in 3 ½ weeks, so the recovery period wasn’t so bad. Right after surgery I had a soft cast on for one week to let the swelling go down. When they took it off, I didn’t even have a bandage on it. The doctor said…let pain be your guide. It was hurting when I played, but I gave it a whirl. The Saturday game against ASU was my first game back and it was hurting real bad when I was swinging. In fact, the first two weeks hitting I was in a lot of pain. The doctor told me I’d have a lot of pain for the rest of the season. Now I don’t notice the pain…it’s gone, which is awesome.

PJ: Pablo Sandoval (current Boston Red Sox and former SF Giant) broke these bones in each hand. I heard this is a common injury.

Drew: I hadn’t heard of it before I broke mine. Yes, Pablo broke his, but I didn’t think it would ever happen to me. After I had the injury I started hearing about others. Drew Storen, the closer for the Washington Nationals, broke his during batting practice. There was a player at Cal [Mike Reuvekamp] and a Stanford teammate, Matthew Decker, one week after mine.

PJ: What type of physical therapy did you go through?

Drew: I was doing leg workouts…everything I could do to keep my whole body in shape. After I got my cast off I did wrist strengthening exercises in the weight room. I swung the bat for the first time the Wednesday before the ASU series [March 27-29]. The more I swung, it made the healing better. I really didn’t have physical therapy.

PJ: You were named Pac-12 Player of the Week for your series against Utah in April. You went 7-for-14 with three doubles and five runs scored. This was only a few weeks after coming back from your injury.

Drew: Yeah, that was pretty cool. It felt good and it was nice being back on the field. Being injured I realized how important baseball is to me and how amazing it is to play at such a high level. I’m trying to take it all in. I’m not sure how much longer I will be playing baseball or be playing at Stanford.

PJ: So, you are thinking about the draft and playing pro baseball, right?
Drew bunting against Utah on April 19.
Photo courtesy of Bob Drebin/

Drew: I want to get drafted. I am ready to play pro ball if the opportunity is there. But, there is nothing bad about coming back and playing at Stanford. Ideally, I do want to get drafted and play at the pro level.

PJ: Why baseball?

Drew: My dad tried walking on at Cal and he play soccer. He is the biggest baseball fan. Ever since I remember I’ve had a wiffle bat and ball in my hand. It’s ingrained in me…I have a deep appreciation for the game. When you put a lot of hard work into something and you see the results of your efforts, you appreciate it more. I like other sports, too. But, there is something about baseball. I love the game.

PJ: Your older brother, Brett, plays for the Sacramento River Cats. How much of an influence has he been on you?

Drew: He’s my biggest role model and one of my best friends. It’s nice to have someone go through it before me to give me a heads up. I think I have more knowledge of what to expect than others who don’t have a brother in pro ball. I was growing up dreaming of being a professional baseball player and the fact that he’s made it is so cool. I remember the day he got called up [August 6, 2012, with the Chicago Cubs]. It’s cool to say my brother’s been there. He’s hitting well and I hope he gets called up by the Giants.

Brett is five years older than me, however the way he treats me you wouldn’t notice an age difference. My younger brother, Connor is 17 and will be going to Cal. We’ve all grown closer. They are my best friends. Growing up the five-year gap seems bigger. Brett was a good role model on how to treat Connor and be a good big brother. We just hung out and played wiffle ball in the backyard. I have to give a shout out to my sister [Lindsey], too. She is the best sister out there.

PJ: Have you seen your brother play for the River Cats?

Drew: I haven’t seen him since spring training. He came to see a couple of my games at ASU and we had dinner together. Our schedules are so tight. In fact, spending time with all six of us [the entire Jackson family] only happens a couple of times a year. I cherish those times…they are my favorite times of year.

Drew ready at short against Utah on April 19.
Photo courtesy of Bob Drebin/
PJ: Speaking of Cal, most of your family has gone (or in the case of Connor, is going) there. Are they tough on you for breaking the family tradition and playing for the enemy?

Drew: Nearly all of my extended family has gone to Cal…11 cousins and siblings. I do get heat for going to the dark side, as my family calls it. But, it makes it fun…we tailgate for the Big Game. We really get into it. My loyalties lie with the school I chose, but I still root for Cal when not playing them in football.

My sister gives me the most heat about going to Stanford. She has the most Cal pride of any Jackson. She won’t wear red to my games, but she says I’m the only Stanford player she will root for. My parents are decked out in red for every game [even though Mom went to UCLA and Dad to Cal]. They are my biggest supporters.

PJ: What is your best baseball memory?

Drew: Last year in the regionals [for Stanford]. I had pinch hit and was on second base. Tommy Edman was up and I was just hoping he’d get a slap single so I could get home. He hit a walk off home run…he had never hit a home run left handed before. My other one came last summer. I played in the Cape Cod league for the Cotuit Kettleers. In one game I hit the game tying run and then I hit the game winning run to send the team to the championship. That was pretty sweet.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

David Parry…and the Two-Minute Drill

Editor's Note: On May 2, David Parry was selected by the Indianapolis Colts in Round 5 of the NFL Draft. He will join former Stanford teammates: Andrew Luck, Coby Fleener, Griff Whalen, and Henry Anderson. 

The NFL draft is fast approaching.

For football players who have declared for the draft, the last few months have been packed with training, training, and more training. Although, the type of training they’ve been doing is slightly different from how they typically work to get ready for a football season.

Pac-12 All-Academic first teamer David Parry, a nose tackle, who played at Stanford, is one of these athletes. He was invited to the NFL Combine, participated in Stanford’s Pro Day, as well as regional tryouts for a few teams.

David Parry, No. 58, during the Foster
Farms Bowl in Dec. 2014. Photo courtesy
Last season, as a fifth-year senior, David tallied 34 tackles and 4.5 sacks. He was a semifinalist for the Burlsworth Trophy and was All-Pac-12 honorable mention.

David has taken an incredible journey to this point. Coming out of Linn-Mar (Iowa) High School he played both offensive and defensive tackle. As a senior he was an Iowa Newspaper Association 4A all-state first team offensive lineman, made the Iowa Preps Elite all-state first team, All-Mississippi Valley Conference and all-Cedar Rapids Metro Area first team, and was selected to play in the Iowa Shrine All-Star game.

With all that, he wasn’t offered a Division I college scholarship. I still can’t believe that and I’m not the only one.

He walked on at Stanford and was awarded a scholarship during training camp of his second year. He quickly made an impact on the team.

David who stands at 6-2 and is 300+ lbs., made his first career start in his junior year at UCLA and had a team-high five solo tackles, a sack, and a pass deflection. In the Rose Bowl against Wisconsin that year he had three solo tackles. The following year he finished with 23 tackles.

The draft analysis on David points out that he: explodes out of stance and into linemen with force. He also: has strength and functional quickness to be a factor against the run while creating push and pocket disruption against the pass.

I sat down with David recently and he shared his perspective and what’s he’s been doing since the end of the Stanford football season.

PJ: What have you been doing since the bowl game?

David: After the bowl, then it was the East-West Shrine game, then the NFL Combine, then Pro Day. It’s been one goal at a time. Since then it’s been all football, all training.

PJ: Some players go away to train for the combine, why did you decide to stay at Stanford?

David: Throughout my career I’ve worked with Coach Turley. He’s tailored my workout for my body and how my body responds to the conditioning. It was about me trusting him fully. There was no question if I would get the same quality training here. There are lots of reasons to go elsewhere. Some think it’s more glamorous and some want a change of scenery. I had everything I need here, so there was no reason to go anywhere else.

PJ: What was the difference between training for the NFL combine and Pro Day?

David: The combine training is very specific. You know the position drills you will be doing. They’ve done the same drills for 20 years. You can train for these. Some argue that this is a good thing because you can take the results and compare them to guys from 10 or 20 years ago. At Pro Day, when it comes to position drills you don’t know what you’ll get. Coach Turley told us some (coaches) just like to work you until you drop. For Pro Day, you just have to be ready for anything.

PJ: How was your training for the combine and Pro Day different from how you train throughout the year?

David: During the year training is broken into four seasons. This training was like our spring training. It was about explosiveness, speed, and power. In the summer we do more conditioning to get our joints and muscles ready for the season. In-season we do maintenance and continue to do lifts and exercises to prevent injuries in games and practices.

Here, our favorite time is spring, as the sun is out more. It’s fun to run and lift. For my drills (at these events) my strategy on the 40 yard dash was to run a good 10 yard split. That’s what I focused on… as an inside linebacker the explosiveness was important for me.

PJ: So, break down your training.

David: Mondays and Thursdays we came in by 10am to lift for an hour and a half to an hour and 45 minutes. We were on the field and ready to run at noon for one hour to one and a half hours. On Monday we had speed-oriented runs. On Thursday they were lateral-based for drills. Tuesday was lifting. Wednesday was a day of recovery with the foam roller, yoga, and a cold tub.

PJ: Coach Turley is on the cutting edge of strength and conditioning training. How is his training different?

David: On functionality, each lift has a purpose. The focus is on detail. Each movement helps you stay on the field and perform at a higher level. At the beginning working with Coach Turley was definitely a learning curve. If you talk to every guy who is a fan of Coach Turley he probably hated him at one point! Initially, we butted heads a bit, but I looked at the older guys who played my position and realized if you buy in to what Coach Turley is trying to teach, you’ll be successful. There are a lot of factors that have gone into me getting here. Coach Turley has been very instrumental in my development as a football player and as a person. One thing that doesn’t get talked about much is that he also trains you for life.

David, No. 58, against Notre Dame
in Oct. 2014. Photo courtesy of
PJ: Has your dream been to play pro football in the NFL?

David: Almost unknowingly. I always dreamt of playing big time college football. Coming out of high school I had no scholarship offers, so I focused on playing football, strictly that. When I got here, I started playing for my team. Now I am on the verge of making this happen. It’s pretty cool.

PJ: Has not getting scholarships been a motivator for you?

David: It definitely will motivate me for the rest of my life. The idea of being doubted and underappreciated upsets me and is the fuel that has motivated me. It’s the chip on my shoulder for training and especially when I’m playing. I showed I can play at this level, now going to the next level, there are doubters again. They say my arms are too short and I’m not tall enough to play. I will end up thanking these people (for the motivation).

PJ: What was your ‘I made it moment’?

David: In the first Rose Bowl against Wisconsin. I faced the best offensive lineman (Travis Frederick) I’ve ever played against, besides David DeCastro (who is an offensive guard for the Pittsburgh Steelers and played at Stanford). I was making plays that game. I competed and even got the best of him at times. I showed I was in the right place. I was not complacent. After he got me on plays in the beginning, I wanted to still compete, and play against someone at that level and dominate them.

PJ: Where will you watch the draft?

David: I am going home to Marion, Iowa, to watch with Mom and Dad, my brother and his wife and their two kids, and a few friends from high school. I’m not planning a party as I’m not sure if I’ll be drafted.

PJ: Who was your favorite athlete growing up?

David: To be honest growing up my brother (George, who played football at Harvard) was my favorite football player. He and my dad taught me everything. My brother played with a physicality and tenacity I like to bring to my play. I was fortunate to watch him play growing up.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Kevin Nathan…and the Two-Minute Drill

When I first starting working with Kevin Nathan at 24 Hour Fitness in 2010 I thought he was a good trainer. We met my goals and that is all you can ask from your trainer.

But then, everything changed. 

Kevin Nathan and me
after a tough training session.
Kevin moved over to Bodies by Amorim (with Travis Amorim) and I was coming off a few surgeries, not having full mobility of my left arm, and both arms were very weak. I had done some physical therapy to gain more mobility, but wasn’t nearly ready for my next surgery. We had a month to get strong and were limited to training twice a week. So, we had 8 to 10 actual training sessions to move the needle. Any improvement from where I was would be a small win.

However, we were both unprepared for what happened next. I actually got so strong that my recovery was much easier. And, when I got back into the gym after a few months, it didn’t take as long to ramp up.

We didn’t achieve a small win; we achieved a big win. One that has stayed with me the past year-and-half and motivated me to accomplish even more.

And a win that made me recognize that Kevin isn’t just another good trainer. Kevin is an extraordinary trainer. He has helped me get back to normal and take these big and small wins to propel me even further.

I sat down recently with Kevin and he shared his perspective on training.

PJ: How did you get started as a trainer?

Kevin: For years my only goal was making it to the NHL. When I was growing up in California it was nearly impossible for a kid from here to make it to the NHL. So, reality was that maybe I won’t make it, but I can make it to the league in another way…take another path.

My mom has worked at Palmer College of Chiropractic for 30 plus years. I never wanted to be a chiropractor, but being around them, I thought this wasn’t a bad path. I saw the application. One of the guys (at Palmer) was active in sports, had seen injuries, remembers the process with his injury, and decided to pay it forward and help someone else. My situation was similar. I thought maybe I could help someone else, another athlete. Then it all clicked when I saw one of my best friends, Craig, working at 24 Hour Fitness. I saw all the things I could do….I could have fun doing this…I could see my path.

PJ: So for you it always comes back to hockey.

Kevin: Yes. Hockey is a huge part of my life. I can’t remember it not being part of my life. When I learned how to walk my dad had me on skates. The bond I have with my dad is from hockey. No matter what happened during the day or if I was in trouble, if hockey was on, we dropped everything. Hockey taught me leadership, how to have balance in my life, responsibilities, etc. This passion for hockey translates to the gym. I can do something and truly be happy.

I want to be part of keeping hockey in California. I want to develop a training center for kids to get better on and off the ice. I don’t want these kids to be at a disadvantage because they can’t just water the parking lot and play.

PJ: Let’s talk about how you’ve helped your clients come back from setbacks. Tell me about working with your client who had the stroke.

Kevin: For me it was something different than I had experienced in my 10 year career. He crashed his car and at the same time blacked out. He tried to get out of the car but couldn’t move his left side. The funny part was that the first thing he said to his wife when he woke up in the hospital was…you have to get a hold of Kevin and tell him I cannot make the session.

He’s 6-2 or 6-3 and when we first started working together, before the stroke, he couldn’t do sit ups on the ball…his knees would hurt. When he came back after the stroke he was a changed person…his priorities. His reality was…I am lucky to be here. The most important thing was to go back to the basics. To understand what his body was allowing him to do. First, it was, how do we get him through the day—get out of bed in the morning, go to work. How do we get him to have a normal life? Weight loss was not a part of it.

Trust was a big thing. Anything I told him to do was in his best interest and he knew that…that I would be there if his arm couldn’t do something. He wasn’t big into lifting heavy, but as a male there are certain expectations. He was under that level and he wanted to at least get to this level. Now he is back to normal, which is great. For me, my success is when my clients can do what they want to do. It’s about how good they feel inside accomplishing certain tasks. His measuring stick was going to the Dish to walk. He is able to do this now, and that is a big thing. You could see this brought him joy. This was one of my biggest journeys.

PJ: How did you help JJ Ambrose, a professional athlete, come back from an injury?

Kevin: The opposite spectrum is JJ. He is ready to go and sometimes I have to pull back the reigns. If I would to tell him to eat glass, he would, because he trusts me. When someone that motivated needs to pull back it’s hard to explain to an athlete you can’t do this. I try to create a program to go around it or word things differently. When he can’t do certain motions and he wants to, it’s about how do you trick him into not doing it. I need to distract him so he doesn’t get hurt more.

PJ: What was your plan when I came to you after my surgery?

Kevin: You trusted me and that was key. As I said before, it doesn’t work without trust. I knew that you would do what I asked and you knew that I wouldn’t injure you. It might hurt a little, but those were the steps you needed to take. I trust you to know when you say it hurts you are not trying to get out of doing it.

We were looking to wake up your muscles. After looking at your limitations, I did a backwards program. The idea was to start and progress forward. Progression is the key. With surgery you were limited to certain movements and some muscles were helping others to recover. The supporting muscles needed to be strengthened. So I thought about what we could to do work on those supporting muscles. Then, we could work on the progression from that point.

PJ: What was your plan to strengthen my arms prior to surgery?

Kevin: I looked at your limitation and time was a big factor. We only had a month to work. So I decided that what was best was to do function with resistance moves with bands and balls and adding weight…to do every day movement. We surprised ourselves. When you came back from surgery it was huge! You had exercised enough where your body had strength and your muscles had started to activate again. We couldn’t have done it without the resistance bands. It worked wonders in one month. Your recovery was better. So when you came back your muscles woke up, you didn’t have to start from scratch. Function and daily movements are big.

PJ: Helping your clients come back from injuries, surgery, and a stroke, is a relatively new thing for you. How do you like this aspect of training?

Kevin: Physical therapy is a great field. What I like about it is that my mind is active, it’s exciting. How do I make it fun for you and me? At the end of the day, how do I make you come back? It’s about doing a lot of functional moves with balls and bands. It’s intricate. To the outside person it just looks like throwing a ball. But to me, it relates to every day functional things. Can you reach up into the cabinet to get a glass with no pain and not reinjure yourself? That’s the everyday side of it.

*                                                                              *                                                                         *

Check out Kevin on Twitter @meshKappaDoobie
Contact Kevin at

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Callaway Golf Driving Engagement

I’m always on the lookout for the latest on innovative ideas from sports brands.

A few weeks ago I came across the Callaway Golf website. Yes, it has things you’d typically expect like information on equipment and instruction, but take another look.

LPGA Tour pro Lydia Ko
and Harry Arnett. Photo courtesy
of Callaway Golf Company.
Callaway takes a different perspective. As Harry Arnett, SVP of Marketing, said, their marketing philosophy is “part newsroom, part morning show, and part agency.”

Their lineup consists of Callaway Radio (podcasts); Callaway Talks (videos); weekly wrap up videos; videos on new equipment, instruction, and tips; and The Backpage.

The Backpage is even more fun. It has quizzes from what style golf hat you should wear, to texts from pros, and videos of trick shots.

One recent video they shot is LPGA pro Lydia Ko hitting a ball down Lombard Street in San Francisco.

Recently I sat down with Harry Arnett to learn more about their strategy.

The history:
Harry: The company went from a mom and pop entrepreneurial start-up to the biggest golf company in the world…almost overnight. In the early 1990s Callaway introduced Big Bertha. This was the first product in golf that was used by everybody—from the best players on the pro tour to retirees in Palm Desert.

It was the first golf company to treat the brand with more marketing. In the 1990s golf was still a cottage industry. People working in golf were doing things the same way they always did. Callaway was the outsider. He brought different fundamentals (from business) to change the industry. And he built the biggest brand recognized all over the world. Celebrities started endorsing golf in the early- to mid-90s…Callaway was the first.

When Mr. Callaway passed away…it was the worst. The company lost its way, (yet) it was still
growing and had well-performing products. From 2008-2012 the business really declined—profitability more than top line. They lost focus on what type of company it was. The industry had changed in 2008 just as Callaway was starting to lose market share.

TaylorMade emerged and distinguished itself with product and marketing. In 2008 both companies
were the same size. However, by 2012, they were $300m apart in profitability.

Chip (Brewer), the CEO, hired me at the end of May 2012. Marketing needed to change…to think more about the consumer first. We wanted to create a communication/marketing model to match the way consumers were getting, transferring/sharing, engaging with information. We realized this had fundamentally changed.

We bet the marketing farm and created a new operating model. We think of ourselves and behave like a media company.

What they did:
Harry: Now, a lot of people say the word newsroom. I was inspired by the program Newsroom on
HBO. Having worked in radio we had to put on a topical show each day. I was thinking about story arcs with products, that could engage with consumers in a topical/real-time way. The show on HBO was fictionalized about a bunch of people creating a news hour every night.

But, how do we do this in our sport?

What about production value…how do we look at costs different…do we capitalize on in-house resources or outsource…where do we need speed and where don’t we need to be so fast? These are questions we asked ourselves. We turned everything on its head—quantity sometimes over quality.
We decided we couldn’t outsource storytelling…we couldn’t bring in an agency because they didn’t understand our story. We couldn’t be as fast as we wanted to be with an outside agency. So, we try to do as much as we can in-house.

We think of ourselves as a media company. For example, if the Food Network had a food brand, they
would market different than a packaged goods company would market it. It’s the human element, it’s organic…they would create a series around it, not commercials. So, we thought about the consumer experience different.

My office is different. It looks like SNL. All our shows are on a board…17 things up there. Two to
Harry and PGA Tour pro Patrick Reed.
Photo courtesy of Callaway Golf Company.
three years ago we’d typically script, for the storytellers to hit certain things. (Now we don’t) It takes practice to get comfortable, to capture the story arc and not specific words. It creates realism, timeliness, and approachability for Callaway, the brand.

For social media execution, we have an official Callaway account, but let consumers know individual accounts so they can connect with our people and talk about anything. So they can say…I have a guy at Callaway. It has helped build a loyal audience, organically.

While our followers may not be as big as Coke or Nike, we have a meaningful audience who feel like they have a direct connection with Callaway. So it’s a natural distribution channel.

How the brand has changed:
Harry: The brand went from old guys to young, fresh, fast engaging…almost overnight.

We’re seen as an innovation company. We have the brand we wanted: More aspirational, yet more accessible. No other brand can say this. We marry the two things together.

Just some of what they do:
Harry: Our biggest bucket of content is the episodic, serial pieces. They take more time and energy to produce with three or four people or more to create. This is where the rubber hits the road. These are the most differentiated in the brand. They include podcasts and Callaway Live.

Group selfie at the LPGA shoot on March 23.
Photo courtesy of Callaway Golf Company.
We do a podcast…we just did our 100th show where we interview employees and tour players.

Our talk show, Callaway Talks, has no script. We never edit. It’s always one take. It’s meant to feel organic.

The Backpage (on the website) is meant to be fun. It represents a look at exchanges of ideas with consumers. We’re not always doing the predictable things.

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Check out Callaway’s site at
Follow Callaway on Twitter at @CallawayGolf
Follow Harry Arnett on Twitter at @HarryArnettCG

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Stanford Pro Day…Sights and Sounds

I just got back from Stanford’s Pro Day. This is the event where the scouts for many (if not all) NFL teams come to watch the Stanford football players who declared for the draft. Some of the players were invited to the NFL Combine in Indianapolis last month (Andrus Peat, Alex Carter, David Parry, Ty Montgomery, etc.). Others were not and this is just an opportunity for them to get in front of the teams one more time.

AJ Tarpley getting ready to run
They do various drills, are timed, etc. As I am not an NFL scout, I do not know how they evaluate these players based on these drills. I just know what I have seen on the field on Saturdays.

Stanford football has tremendous athletes and Coach David Shaw and his staff do a great job at reloading every year. I look at many of these players and wonder how they will fill that hole next year, but someone is always waiting for their shot.

This is my second Pro Day at Stanford. And no, my first Pro Day was not Andrew Luck’s. I actually watched him on TV trying to release the ball before the broom attacked. I attended the following year.

One thing you have to know about going to Pro Day at Stanford. It’s going to be hot. There is no shade, although the athletic department does put up a few umbrellas. So bring plenty of water and a hat.

Many former Stanford players show up. This year I noticed Indianapolis Colts teammates Coby Fleener and Griff Whalen, among others.

Coby Fleener on the right
Coby, who is a tight end, had a breakout season with 51 catches for 774 yards and eight touchdowns this year. Something just seemed to click this year for Coby.

“Playing under Pep Hamilton’s (Colts offensive coordinator and former Stanford OC) system helped…and people don’t realize that the stripes on the ball are different and they are coming right at you. The pro game is much different than the college game.”

I also spied Oakland Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie talking to San Jose State wide receiver Jabari Carr in the parking lot. Jabari, who had his Pro Day yesterday and enjoyed it, said, “It was fun to get back out there on the field.”

The Stanford players also shared some thoughts.

Andrus Peat, an offensive tackle, who is predicted to go in the first round of the draft, stands at 6-7, 313 pounds. He made All-Pac-12 first team, Outland Trophy quarterfinalist, Sporting News and All-America, and on and on. Andrus is the son of former NFL offensive tackle, Todd Peat, who played for the Cardinals and the Raiders.

“Today was what I expected,” he said. When asked about San Francisco 49er Chris Borland retiring earlier this week due to concerns around concussions, Andrus said, “It’s his decision. I want to play as long as I can.”

Ty Montgomery
Ty Montgomery, wide receiver (and return specialist) who finished the season with a team-high 61 receptions for 604 yards. He was a Hornung Award finalist, All-America honorable mention, All-Pac-12 second team (return specialist), etc. He lost 10 pounds of muscle between the combine last month and today.

“I was lighter and felt more flexible (today),” he said. “My emphasis was on flexibility. I got a little stiff (at the combine). I felt fast and explosive today. It’s been a little stressful and tiring, but this is what I signed up for…what I want to do. I’m very grateful to be here.”

Now, all that is left is the waiting…until their name is called on draft day(s), April 30.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

JJ Ambrose….and the Two-Minute Drill

I have wanted to interview JJ Ambrose, the MMA fighter, for a few years. It took a while for us to set this up, but I guess it’s all about timing. He is in between fights at the moment, waiting for his petition to join the UFC to be accepted. Or, as JJ likes to say, he is waiting to join the major leagues.

The first time I saw JJ was at my gym, Bodies by Amorim. My personal trainer, Kevin Nathan, was telling me how JJ, aka Superman, was getting ready for an upcoming fight. It’s incredible to see what he goes through in the gym. I have witnessed all kinds of athletes train, but none can do what JJ does.

JJ Ambrose after winning a fight
For those of you who don’t know much about MMA, it is a combination of martial arts, boxing, and wrestling.

JJ, who turned professional in 2005, has an overall record of 21-5. He has been fighting in the Lightweight division for Bellator since 2012.

We sat down recently to talk and here’s what JJ shared with me.

PJ: How did you get started in this sport?

JJ: I started in 2005, my senior year in high school. A promoter from a neighboring city asked a group of us [at school] if we wanted to fight. Ultimate Fighter on Spike TV was just starting and it was popular with guys my age. It seemed natural. I went on the show and won. It felt good at the end to have my arm lifted above my head.

I didn’t have a lot of direction at that point. Thought I’d wrestle in school, but I wasn’t sure of what would have been next. When I ended up winning the fight I met people who helped me connect the dots. I spoke to people who pointed me in the right direction of where to go next.

I trained in SoCal full-time and opted out of Cerritos College for wrestling. It sounds silly not to go to school. But, I had no passion for any other career but this one. It was fulfilling a dream. In a sense I feel like the kids from Peter Pan—the Lost Boys. I don’t want to grow up.

PJ: How did you know MMA was it?

JJ: Part of me felt this was destiny or fate. I saw myself making it here. In the beginning I was na├»ve. When I first started out fighting I was sure of myself. Then I got older and realized, hey, I’m good at this.

PJ: What is it about MMA that makes you want to continue to do it?

JJ: It clicked from that first fight. All the martial arts pieces come together. It’s addicting in a way. Although, there are some scary things behind the scenes. The 24 hours before a fight I feel like I’m line for a roller coaster and I can’t get out of line. Every fight it’s the same mentality—the fear of the unknown. The waiting. It’s not like a street fight, there is no escalation. It is eight weeks of training, knowing who you are going to fight and having no animosity towards them. You just know that in eight weeks you get into the cage and fight.

It’s still an addiction. At my first fight camp, the night before weigh in I felt like I was going crazy. Part of me wanted to quit. One of the coaches said that it’s crazy to get in a cage and not feel it. This is going against the grain…starving yourself [for the weigh in]. The body and mind want shelter, enough food to eat, etc. Here you are willing to put yourself in harm’s way. It’s your moment of sanity thinking I want to quit.

But you can’t. The night before the fight all the nerves and pressure are there. After the fight you know exactly why you do this. It seems perfectly natural, not crazy. Then, a month goes by and you forget again and ask why am I doing this?

PJ: What are you top moments in MMA?

JJ: It’s hard to narrow down everything. Although, I have to say the travel around the world and the people I’ve met resonate. I’ve met the who’s who in MMA.

I remember as a kid watching [Jean Claude] Van Damme’s movie Kickboxer and thinking Wow, it would be awesome to train in Thailand. Then at 23 my bags were packed and I was going to Thailand. If I had gone to college I wouldn’t have traveled to all those places in the short life I’ve had.

PJ: What was it like in Thailand?

JJ: It was an eye-opener. The sport is more embedded in the culture. In American it is baseball, there it is Muy Thai. I’m not sure what percentage of the population fights there, but you are either a tuk tuk driver, a government official or a fighter. When they see a Westerner, they ask Muy Thai?
Thailand is a beautiful place, but people assume if you are a Westerner, you are there training Muy Thai.

PJ: How about the training?

JJ: Before Thailand training was different. It’s hard to break down. Before I fought with a controlled rage. I’d pump myself up over nothing and fight. There, both fighters are trying to get ahead. They accept losses and carry on.

In America, people are bitter and angry if your team gets knocked out of the playoffs. They are bitter and root against others.

In Thailand, it’s I lost, I’ll go back to the gym tomorrow. It’s business as usual…an acceptance. It’s not a change in training, it’s more of a change mentally. There is a lesson learned, now go back to the gym…now I know how to train.

PJ: How has your training changed since you’ve been working with Kevin Nathan and Travis Amorim of Bodies by Amorim?

JJ: As a fighter, my mentality was either to spar or do martial arts training to get in shape. I had read about strength training and heard others talk about it. It has made me more efficient. Now I am stronger and faster and my level of coordination has improved. This is the key to the puzzle…what makes me a complete fighter.

Year round I maintain a level of cardio. I am never out of shape. I can’t get stronger and faster at the same time. Sometimes I work on strength and other times speed. Right now, I am working on my skills sets—to get better. Recently, I trained for a fight that was cancelled, so I am ready to go.

In UFC fights get cancelled a lot. It is the equivalent to a pitcher on the sidelines waiting to go in. Now, I am just waiting for an opponent.

Fortunately, I am still young enough to make an impact in UFC. I have another 5-10 years in me. Luckily, I haven’t been injured and I am still coherent—no brain injuries, so it’s a matter of time.

PJ: How do you keep motivated?

JJ: I enjoy training. I enjoy the camaraderie with the other fighters. It is the sense of fitting in—like we are all crowded around the campfire telling stories. As fighter, it’s comforting knowing others are going through the same strife as you. You are not the only one.

It’s like two people tired and both look up at the same time and see each other suffering. I know what you are going through.

PJ: What is your favorite sport to train?

JJ: I get a different satisfaction out of all of them. I enjoy jiu jitsu, boxing, wrestling—all of it. It’s about landing a punch. I am not happy hurting someone, but I get a satisfaction out of landing a perfect punch. I want to make people quit—not die—that is the goal.

PJ: What are your goals?

JJ: I don’t really have goals, just the next step. I like the next 20 foot theory. If I had a flashlight and shined it, I can’t see 200 miles down the road, but I can see 20 feet. Now, it’s all about getting into the UFC. Once I get there I’ll see what’s next. I focus on being in better shape than I am today….If I had been too far-reaching, like a goal of UFC champion right now, I wouldn’t achieve it. I never think like that.

I think sometimes there is a problem with kids starting out…all they see is the glitz and glam. Yet, it takes years to get where I am now. You have to go through stumbles…that’s what makes great athletes—being able to pick yourself up over and over again when you fail.

PJ: You are spending your time now as a personal trainer. How is that?

JJ: I am pretty selective on my clients. I enjoy training my wife and friends—people I care about. I get satisfaction when I can see people I care about succeed in their goals. When I can help someone else and have some type of impact, I like it. I enjoy showing what I’ve learned.

PJ: How do you keep inspired?

JJ: I write a note for myself before my fights. The note is like an identity statement. [It helps] with the nerves in the 24 hours before a fight…there are a lot of what ifs…a lot of thinking. I have nightmares where I am afraid of the dark, like I am a 10 year old. I wake up and I forget I am an adult…a fighter. At this point there are so many nerves and wasted energy.

I have quotes from different authors and things from me. I trained really hard for this fight. I killed it in training. It’s like an affirmation to myself. Otherwise, I will revert to a child.

It’s hard not to think. I am reminded of the movie, The Last Samurai…there is a line “Too many mind…the sword…the enemy….” In MMA, this clicks. You think about what’s ahead of you. It’s the larger focus when fighting. It’s like anything in life. I ask my daughter…how many things do you do at once? She is drawing and looking at the TV at the same time. This lesson to her applies back to me.

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Follow JJ on Twitter @SuperJJAmbrose