The Kiel family has long been known for football. With late uncle, Blair Kiel previously playing for the Packers and younger brother Gunner now starting for the Cincinnati Bearcats, the clan has truly made a name for themselves in football.
Eldest brother, Drew Kiel, was a record-breaking quarterback at Illinois State when he came up against his greatest trial. It was in the fourth quarter with five minutes left of the game. After getting hit, his thumb was temporarily caught in the turf. But, it was not until the next throw when he went to grip the ball that he realized what had happened. His thumb had been bent back nearly 180 degrees and felt like it was on fire.
That burning sensation for a torn ligament caused him to be out for the rest of the season. From that point on, his chances of playing were drastically reduced. Things were just not the same because of an incident that occurred in a matter of seconds.
For years, much of Drew’s identity revolved around football. Yet, sometimes, life does not agree with your plans for the future. No matter how much you see yourself going down a certain path, there could be a greater force at work directing you elsewhere. And how you deal with this fact determines your entire future.
"Endurance is not just the ability to bear a hard thing, but to turn it into glory." -William Barclay
Read on to learn about this young athlete’s story and how his greatest challenges have led him to even greater opportunities:
1. Your family is obviously known for football. What would you like them to be known for?
Yes, people see our last name and the first thing that comes to mind is football. That’s OK, but at the end of the day, football only lasts for so long. My family and I would agree that we would like to be seen as hard-working, loving, humble, and dedicated people that have had great relationships with the people around us in every aspect of life. Oh and by the way, they happen to be good at football. We would much rather be recognized as hard workers and good character guys, rather than be recognized as good football players.
2. Your family is very tight-knit. Why do you think you are so close?
Well I think the first ingredient to having a close-knit family is to have God be the foundation of the home. We are all very religious people and that’s the common unity that we have. I’m fortunate enough to have two outstanding parents that have always done everything they can for my brothers and I. They have always kept us close and always doing things together.
Whether it be family meals, backyard football games, family trips, or doing chores, these things were always done together which brought us very close. Sure we are all different in some ways, but we are a family that will always be in each other’s corners no matter what the situation is. I always tell people that people can mess with me and I won’t get upset, but if you mess with my family, then you better watch out.
3. How has football helped you in other areas of your life?
I think the game of football has been a staple in my life. Through many trials and triumphs over time, I believe it has shaped me not only in the way I take care of myself physically, but has also affected me in many other ways. Football looking in from the outside, looks like just something you do on every Friday, Saturday, or Sunday depending on the level you’re playing. But the games only make up about one percent of the time you actually spend when being on the team.
What people don’t see is the “grit and grind” on an everyday basis that athletes spend in practice, lifting weights, watching film, rehabbing injuries, going to class, going to study table. These are the things that have really developed my character most over time and led me to be successful today.
Being criticized in the public eye with football being so popular nowadays, along with the constant demand of the game really developed a lot of mental toughness over time. This mental toughness that I believe I have now has prepared me for anything that life wants to throw my way. It’s inevitable that bad things are going to happen during the course of a lifetime, but how a person responds to that bad situation is what builds character over time. There’s always a way to bounce back.
Another area that football has really helped with is my overall time management in everything I do. My days are planned out way in advance. From what time I get up, to what I’m eating and what time I eat, etc. is all planned out on a schedule so I can accomplish everything I want to in a day. At the moment, my life is really hectic working towards a Doctorate in physical therapy and also working 25 hours a week as a strength and conditioning coach. I’m able to get all of that done at a high level, as well as do extra reading and studying to further my knowledge even more. This is all due to all the years of constantly planning ahead when I was playing football.
4. Tell me about your business, K3 Training:
K3 Training is something that kind of fell into my lap. After my senior year of college, I had a year of taking pre-requisite classes for PT that brought me back to my hometown of Columbus, IN. My first week back, I received a call from a friend of mine saying that he wanted me to train his son doing quarterback training. With the free time I now had, I was more than willing to do this. His son started to see results over time and K3 Training got bigger and bigger over the course of the summer just by word of mouth and the results that people were having with what we were doing.
We ended the summer with a quarterback and receiver camp where we had a total of 54 kids. During the year that I was home, we expanded to not only doing quarterback training, but also personal training for the general population, speed training for athletes, and nutrition counseling (My degree is in Nutrition and Dietetics) for anyone that was interested. My brother Dusty and I now reside in Nashville, TN and have started to build our client base right now. With us having school, no marketing or extreme effort to expand the business has been made. We still work with a lot of the clients back home and continue to have close relationships with them.
5. Where do you see this business going in the future?
To be honest, I’m not really sure where I see our business going. I really like living in Nashville and I’m kind of taking life as it comes at me. I know I love working with people when it comes to athletics and general health and wellness, but the future is still very uncertain. With this being said, I believe the opportunities for us will be endless with our educational backgrounds, as well as our experience over time with athletics.
I would say our end goal would be to own our own sports performance facility where we combine strength and conditioning, nutrition, the person’s sport, and rehab all together to help develop athletes. With the advances in science and the evidence that is being brought forth, we believe we can make huge strides in developing an athlete, no matter what their genetic predisposition is.
6. What will differentiate your business from other similar practices?
When it is all said and done, I believe that my brothers will have something that no one else will have. The combination of our experiences in athletics and then our educational backgrounds will be unmatched. We will be doctors of physical therapy (DPT), registered dieticians (RD), certified strength and conditioning specialists (CSCS), and have played at a very high level. It will also be an advantage that since we have been together our whole lives, our ability to work together efficiently and effectively is at a high level.
I also believe that we stand out in the fact that we are willing to do anything necessary to help our clients have success. For example, we are very willing to pick up the phone and call college coaches to tell them about the prospects we have. With us being from Indiana, we know it’s very hard to get recruited. Since we have been through the recruiting process, we have developed a lot of good contacts that we get a hold of constantly to tell them about the kids we have coming through.
You can also reach us at any time of the day and we will respond very quickly. It’s important to us that we are helping you reach your goal, no matter what it is. Whether it’s advice on a supplement, how many reps to do on bench press today in weight class, or what stretches to do in order to stretch a tight latissimus dorsi, we will get back to you very fast with the information you need.
7. If there were some things that you could tell young athletes to help them succeed, what would it be?
I would tell young athletes to enjoy your time playing the game. Not just playing, but to enjoy your teammates, the atmosphere of the games, the good times and the bad times. There are a limited number of days you have to play, so enjoy every second of it. In today’s society, there’s so much pressure on a young athlete to go perform at a certain level. Try to look past that as much as possible and realize that it’s a game and it should be fun to play.
I would also tell young athletes to never take their parents for granted for the sacrifices that they make for them on a day to day basis in order for them to participate in sports. I didn’t realize how much my parents did for me until recently looking back. There was one Fall when our dad coached all 3 of our football teams at the same time. Kids don’t realize stuff like that, but that was very time consuming. Looking back, we really appreciate all the time both my parents spent taking us to practices, playing with us, and just caring about us having success.
8. What has been the greatest trial in your life and how did you overcome this?
My greatest trial was when I was injured during my time at Illinois State. I tore my UCL ligament in my right hand (throwing hand) during my first start as a redshirt sophomore. This forced me to miss the rest of the season. During the course of the season, the back-up quarterback had a great season and ended up playing the rest of the time that I was there.
At the time, this was very hard for me to understand. Football was my “identity”. That’s what I spent all my time and effort on. For me to have to sit back and watch while the kid behind me had success was very humbling. The biggest way I overcame this was by keeping my trust in God. My faith never wavered and I honestly knew that it was all happening for a reason. During the course of that season rehabbing my thumb, lifting, and trying to get back, was when I first gained an interest in the field of Physical Therapy. I believe that whole situation made me very mentally tough while I stuck out those last two seasons there and also led me down the path of where I am today. I look back now and am very thankful for the path that I was led down.
9. What is your greatest motivating force in life?
My greatest motivating force in life is using my knowledge base that I have gained over the years to help people in any way I can. I think that’s why I enjoy working with athletes so much. It’s always so self-fulfilling to me when I can see an athlete get better over time and accomplish his/her goals.
There’s always that time during training also when it “clicks” for the athlete and you can see it on their face that they are getting better. With this comes all kinds of self-confidence for that young athlete, not only for them on the athletic side, but also in everyday life. For me to able to boost that and to do something positive in their lives is what drives me every day to read more books and study harder so I can always bring more to the table.
If you are ever in the Nashville area and would like to get in touch with Drew regarding K3 Training, he can be reached via phone at (812) 343-4226 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Based in Chicago, Jessica reports on career motivation, marketing, entrepreneurship, and many other topics. She is devoted to helping others see things in a different light.