Brad Groleau: Turning a Passion Into a Career

Student-athletes can sometimes feel scared about what lies ahead in the future. Work is a big scary word. To some, it means the start of something new. To others, it means the end of the road – the end of practices, the end of games, and the end of a journey with no idea of what their next path is.

The old philosopher Confucius once said, “Choose a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.”  I spoke with Brad Groleau, a man who did just that. Brad played baseball for McKendree University from 2013 to 2017 and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training.  He then went on to earn a Master’s in Exercise Science at the University of Nebraska Omaha in 2019.

Currently, Brad works for the Arizona Complex League Royals – the Rookie Ball Affiliate of the Kansas City Royals. We talk everything from him finding his love for athletic training to getting the job with the Royals.

*This interview has been lightly edited for clarity

Were you ever nervous about your post-baseball life?

Initially, I was nervous about post-baseball life. However, I found my career choice in athletic training and knew after my junior year that I wanted to pursue a post-graduate degree.

Can you tell me more about your graduate school experience?

I really enjoyed my graduate school program. I received a MA in Exercise Science at the University of Nebraska Omaha. It was a rigorous two-year program that further helped my learning and knowledge of human movement and physiology. I discussed graduate school opportunities with the director of athletic training at McKendree University and pursued this path on my own as I was motivated to attain a master’s degree.

Did you always know you wanted to end up as an athletic trainer?

I didn’t know much about the athletic training profession before college. As I started college, I researched the athletic training profession and was able to shadow athletic trainers at the university. Once I started shadowing, I began enjoying all aspects of the profession. I developed a passion for athletic training when I was accepted into the athletic training program and started classes and clinical hours.

You stayed in baseball as you went into the real world. Can you talk about turning a passion into work?

I grew up with a love of playing sports and a love for baseball dating back to Little League. I dealt with multiple injuries from playing sports. These experiences helped me understand the physical, mental, and emotional hurdles an athlete may go through when dealing with an injury. I enjoy helping athletes through the rehabilitation process on their way back to being fully healthy. It is a very rewarding profession, and I enjoy forming professional relationships with the athletes I work with.

How did you get your internships with the Omaha Storm Chasers and your full-time job now with the Royals?

I applied for a summer internship through the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society (PBATS) internship program and was offered an internship position with the Omaha Storm Chasers, (Royals Triple-A Affiliate), in the summer. I worked for the Storm Chasers as an intern during the summer of 2017 and 2019. This led to me being hired full-time with the Kansas City Royals Rookie Ball Affiliate at the time – the Burlington Royals – in 2019 after I graduated from my master’s program at the University of Nebraska Omaha.

Any advice to current student-athletes who have no idea about what they want to do after college?

Pursue your passion. Mine was sports and sports medicine. Current student-athletes should continue to focus on their academic schoolwork and talk with their academic advisor about potential job opportunities following graduation. Start observing job postings to see what employers are looking for in their applicants. Attend job fairs and try to network with as many people as possible. Explore different internship and volunteer opportunities. Realize that your goals and ambitions may change along the way. That is ok. Work hard and enjoy the journey.

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