For the last five weeks, 32-year-old Coast Guard veteran and Team Red, White and Blue Ventura member Chris Jackson says he feels like he has “become a member of the Sports Academy family.”
Team Red, White and Blue (RWB) is a community outreach program with chapters around the nation that was created to help give military veterans a community to be a part of once they complete their service.
Team RWB Ventura and Sports Academy Foundation (SAF) are partners in developing opportunities for members to connect with the community through sports-based activities. With its’ empowerment through sports initiative, SAF designs individualized Full Circle programs focusing on confidence building in mind, body and spirit.
After holding an event for the new chapter this summer, Deb Richard, the Executive Director of the SAF asked if any of the members were interested in becoming the first military veteran Full Circle athlete for SAF.
Chris was more than happy to volunteer.
“When I first came to Sports Academy, I remember thinking I want to be a part of this somehow,” the Coast Guard veteran said.
Chris is currently in graduate school at Cal Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, California. Chris joined the Coast Guard in 2009 as an electronics technician. He spent five years serving his country as an electronics technician repairing radios, radars and other electronic equipment.
Chris met up with Deb to lay out his five week, five day per week, program at Sports Academy. His program included Sports Performance, Mindset Development, Close Quarters Defense (CQD®), Biomechanics assessment, nutrition and a sport of his choice. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, Chris would train with a personal trainer in Sports Performance. Every Tuesday and Thursday, he would train in a sport and do Mindset Development.
“I was a little intimidated before I started,” Chris said. “But everyone at Sports Academy was so welcoming and it was really like a family environment.”
For his sport, Chris chose basketball; a sport that he always loved to play. His coach was AJ Moye, a former star guard for the Indiana Hoosiers from 2001-2004. AJ trains high-level, younger athletes who are likely to get recruited for college basketball.
However, AJ was very eager to get a chance to work with this 32-year-old.
On their first day of training, AJ shared with Chris that his father and brother were also in the military. Chris says they created an instant bond. AJ helped Chris with shooting, drills, and agility on the court.
“AJ didn’t treat me any differently than the rest of his clients,” Chris said. “He was tough on me, in a good way.”
Chris said that a few weeks into his training, he went to play in some pick-up basketball games and could see an extreme improvement. His friends even noticed his game development too.
After basketball, Chris would meet with Co-Director of Mindset Development Kat Scardino. Kat would take Chris through a series of training exercises that incorporates sports science and mental agility using tools such as the Dynavision board and Neurotracker. These exercises helped Chris work on reaction times, cognitive awareness and peripheral vision.
“This was unlike anything I had ever done before,” Chris said. “I definitely noticed an improvement. Even when I was driving, I would be more focused and see my surroundings better.”
Perhaps the biggest difference Chris sees in himself during his time at Sports Academy is his physical fitness improvement. Three days a week, Chris did one-on-one personal training with trainer Jake Miller. Jake led Chris through rigorous workouts.
“The training was so intense,” Chris said. “I hadn’t worked out that hard in a while.”
Chris said the first day was nearly impossible, but the further along he got, the more comfortable he became with the workouts. By the last couple of sessions, Chris could notice the huge progressions he was making both in the gym and in the mirror.
Through his five-week program, Chris became so comfortable with his trainers. He says he genuinely feels like he has become a part of the Sports Academy family. Chris was honored that trainers who also work with professional athletes provided him the same attention to detail in his own developmental progression.
“I just want to thank Sports Academy Foundation for giving me this experience,” the now, Full Circle athlete said. “It was so amazing.”