Being a certified strength and conditioning specialist and gym owner has its advantages—exercising all day, wearing gym clothes to work and making a daily impact on people’s lives are just a few. Desmond Breadon ’03 majored in exercise science at Central, planning to go on to medical school, but he took a different path instead.
The Wisconsin native transferred to Central after his freshman year, finding that it was a better fit, especially after his three older brothers, Gavin ’96, Eoin ’97 and Enda ’00, all graduated from Central.
“I felt more at home at Central,” Breadon says. “Also, I knew a lot of students and staff at Central before I transferred. I just knew then that Central was the right fit for me socially, athletically and academically.”
Breadon knew he wanted to join the health industry in some way—he was an active wrestler at Central and interested in strength and conditioning. He found out an exercise science major might be more beneficial in some ways than a biology degree for medical school. He stuck with the major and decided medical school wasn’t what he wanted as his passion for strength and conditioning grew.
While his academics and athletics were bright at Central, Breadon’s personal life began to spiral after the loss of a family friend, two good friends and one of his older brothers. Breadon attempted suicide and went to rehab for alcoholism—something he says he couldn’t have conquered without Central’s help.
“I know for a fact that if I was at any other school I would not have made it through that time in my life, let alone with a college degree,” Breadon recalls. “The faculty, staff and students at Central helped me through everything.”
Breadon remembers the Central community attending his brother’s funeral five hours from Pella, and faculty answering his phone calls at 3 a.m. and coming to help him through his tough times.
“I constantly use what I learned from that difficult time in my life to help others that are going through similar issues,” Breadon says. “It showed me that Central is more than just a college—it is a family. I am proud to be a part of that family. Those things have helped propel me to the accomplishments I have made.”
Breadon had no shortage of accomplishments after leaving Central—thanks to his experiences, just two years after graduating, he became the head middle school wrestling coach at New Glarus-Monticello in Wisconsin, as well as the head track, freshman football and strength and conditioning coaches at Monticello High School. In 2012, he was named the head football coach at New Glarus-Monticello High Schools.
“I love coaching football and teaching the young men to be great athletes and people,” he says. “If all they’ve learned from me is the game of football, then I have failed as a coach.”
As if coaching wasn’t enough, Breadon decided to take his training to the next level and buy a gym, The New Glarus Fitness Center. He helps run the day-to-day activities of the gym, including meeting and training with clients, cleaning, equipment maintenance and record keeping.
“The best part of my job is seeing people either achieve their goals or accomplish something they never thought they would be able to do,” he says. “I have discovered that life isn’t about how much money you make or all the ‘things’ you have—it’s about the impact you have on people’s lives. I look at all the people whose lives I have a positive impact on daily through the fitness center and through coaching, and it is a huge amount.”
Until recently, Breadon trained in the gym daily to compete in mixed martial arts (MMA)—he participated in dozens of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournaments and five professional MMA fights. But nowadays, he spends his precious time reading, writing and with his wife Tara and 18-month old daughter Mia. His life will never be the same because of Central—and that’s all for the better.
“Central helped get me where I am today by giving me the knowledge I need to perform my job in all the different areas through its world-class education,” Breadon says. “And the friends I made at Central helped me through the bad times in life, and they were there to celebrate the good ones. I am a much better, stronger person because of Central.”