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Former Gridiron Badgers Team-Up to Support Warrior Families and Student-Athletes: Nick Savage and Mike Reid

Apr. 04, 2018
Category: Leadership

Years ago in two separate cities on two separate paths, two young men embarked on adventures and dreams to pursue becoming student-athletes for the University of Wisconsin. Nick Savage, a fleet footed wide receiver, sprinter, jumper and hurdler from Baltimore and Mike Reid a bone crushing linebacker from Albany 4 years later connected to formulate future plans and dreams together. Their common bond — both targeted dreams of excellence in sports, martial arts, and oddly enough at the time technology. They both were two rare ducks that majored in Computer Science. They both looked at each other and laughed out loud about the topic, “Yeah, Mike and I would get these strange looks from our professors and coaches like we were crazy for pursuing Computer Science degrees.” Mike added, ” Well, let’s just say they didn’t take to the idea that we were serious about both. They’d never heard of Geek-Gladiators or Knights that could ball from Maryland and Georgia! They didn’t know what to do with us.”

Quietly, Savage was one of the 1st major sport student-athletes in the Big Ten to take that path. Reid followed Savage’s footsteps using him as a tutor and mentor. Upon graduation, despite a Badger Bowl appearance and an Academic-All Big Ten nomination, due to untimely injuries (i.e., severe recurring hamstring pull, and a concussion) and no true sports mentor chose an abbreviated path after a shot with the Dolphins, moved into a once in a lifetime position in the tech world on the original PC IBM-Microsoft Team to help make history. Invited by Savage, Reid soon followed as a summer intern to learn the tech trade at the PC Headquarters. Upon return Reid moved with a vengeance as a student-athlete on both fronts as an All-Big Ten Linebacker and draft pick for the Atlanta Falcons. The two remained close and in touch as Savage held student-athlete non-profit camps for kids in Florida and Reid battled on the gridiron for the next seven years. At this stage they both have worked with and launched thousands and are ready to join forces.

Spiraling forward into the present these two men kept the bond together and with teammates. Now with grown kids and businesses of their own; Reid is a Hall of Fame, 7th degree Sr. Grand Master and founder/owner of Premier Martial Arts Academies with schools located throughout the Atlanta area; Master Reid received his martial arts training from an elite Vietnam Veteran and Medical Doctor. Savage is a world class performance architect, inventor, entrepreneur, TEDx speaker and organizer and currently the CEO for The League Inc. and Executive Director of the League of Extraordinary Athletes; Both chose a path to focus on concierge services to help Warrior (i.e., Active duty, Veteran and returning citizen) families and student-athlete families with college aspirations through the various transitions in life. Reid added, “Helping someone find and celebrate their rainbow (e.g., entry into college or an Academy on scholarship, graduation, draft selection or new job) or help them survive storms in the next life (e.g., re-discover relevancy, recover from illness or injury, job loss, brain jury issues) compares to performing on Big Ten or Pro stage.” Savage agreed with a nod, ” Absolutely, priceless! Let them share their great moments and stories so they remember who they are! Then move forward to create new ones”

So when asked what is special about the services offered together? Savage responded, “As servant leaders, we are with our clients for a lifetime not just for that moment.” For example? Reid added, ” There are so many families that need champions and direction to address education, new integrated health and wellness treatments, employment and entrepreneurial-ism. Could you add anymore insight? Savage eagerly addressed, ” Sure, in the case of student-athlete and the Veteran a very powerful force for change is peer mentoring through activity based therapies leveraging Tai Chi, micro-farming, tech teams or running teams. We’ll use technology to move rapidly, share evidence based data and communicate with partners. With regards to employment, many lose a sense of self or relevancy when the band stops playing, bullets stop flying or the crowd stops roaring. Although Mike and I fully understand that there is no comparison of the war fighter experience to the athletes, however, there is unbreakable bond of brotherhood and love for a team with a mindset on single-minded missions created that is experienced in each! ” Respectfully I asked the two executives why did you focus on the Warrior? Savage reflected, ” Well, ” he paused, “I never forgot the four uncles that impacted my life had different transition experiences out of the Service during the crazy time of 1969. Two with rainbows and two struggled with storms. Plus, I worked with various sectors or military world over the years, both Mike and I have maintained close ties with rural and urban teammates over the years at Wisconsin that shared the same problems, fears, and dreams just like many that enlist in the services. For example, we’ll attack the opiate issue. ” What about you Mike? ” Well my Dad served in the Army stationed in Germany and played ball for Pro and the Base team.” I added one last question, growing up who were your heroes? They both chimed in at the same time, ” Growing up my parents were my heroes!”

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Jeffrey Vande Leest ’75 retired June 30, 2021.

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