When someone passes away suddenly, you’ll often hear someone say something like “life’s too short.” For most people these are just words, but for Brad Smith it was a call to action.
After experiencing the passing of two people very close to him, Brad decided to figure out what made him happy and he knew his work didn’t. Brad had gone to school for Electrical Engineering and though he was having fun working tech support with a buddy, Brad wasn’t getting anything else out of his job. At the same time Brad was seeing a massage therapist. Two things intrigued him, one that all his physical problems were fixed and two, the guy that was working on him seemed to really like his job. His interest was piqued and he decided to do some research.
Brad first looked into what type of education he would need to make such a big career change. He also researched the type of massage he could specialize in. He quickly learned that Sports Therapy was where the money was at. The lifestyle of traveling with a team on road trips and an unconventional schedule was something he had experienced as drummer in band. He found a school and had six months before their next session started. Brad spent the six months studying on his own. He studied the classic, Henry Gray’s Anatomy of the Human Body, drawing the muscles to help him memorize them. He was ready to put all this research into motion.
Brad thrived in school. Within a month of starting he quit his tech support job and was hired by a spa. The spa job was a great experience to hone his new craft, but Sports Therapy was the job he really wanted. So it was time for more research. Brad started looking for local sport teams. He sent his resume to the trainer of National Hockey League’s (NHL) Philadelphia Flyers, got his phone number and proceeded to call him weekly. The trainer referred him a to new start-up team, the East Coast Hockey League’s Trenton Titans. Since it was a start-up, with minimal operating/training budget, Brad volunteered to work for free.
For five seasons, Brad spent his nights with the Titans. During the day he made money by seeing his own massage clients three days a week and working carpentry jobs (something he did right out of high school) the other days. Needing a break, Brad took his motorcycle and went cross country for several months. During his time away, he questioned his path. Financially and personally he knew things needed to change.
When he got home, he started to research his next steps. As he was applying to school to become a Physicians Assistant, the requirements changed and he would need more school than he was willing to do. Nursing? That seemed to be a good option. Brad applied and was accepted to a nursing school. But that didn’t last too long.
On his first day of nursing school, Brad got a phone call from the NHL’s New Jersey Devils. Their current massage therapist was retiring and they had an opening. Even though Brad had worked hard and networked with a bunch of the guys working in the NHL, the call was still a shock. He went through the interview process with the Devils and it looked like the job was his. The next phone call from the Devils wasn’t as good. A change in the training staff brought in a new guy with his own choice of massage therapist so Brad was out. Brad hung up the phone disgusted.
His first thought was to get back on the motorcycle and go to Mexico. But just as he finished that thought, the phone rang again. Another call from the NHL, but this time it was the Philadelphia Flyers. For the past seven years, Brad has worked full-time for the team as their Massage Therapist.
Today, Brad is enjoying the summer with wife and two boys. A welcomed offseason break from the Flyers who he helped to their most successful season in recent history. The Flyers won the NHL’s Eastern Conference-making the Stanley Cup Finals-which they eventually lost in six games to the Chicago Blackhawks. Even with all that success, Brad is probably staying true to his nature; researching what the future will hold.
SOUL Survey Questions
- How do you stay focused and motivated?
It’s never a real problem for me. When I was starting out I knew I was working toward something bigger.
- How do you deal with naysayers?
I don’t know because I didn’t and don’t hear them. I hear only encouraging words.
- How do you blur the lines between work and play?
It is very gratifying doing massage. People are happy when you work with them and they know you are fixing their problems.