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Exploring Life & Business with Erin Bratcher of EB Athletics

Today we’d like to introduce you to Erin Bratcher.

Hi Erin, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I was born and raised here in Raleigh, NC, where I lived until heading off to college. I competed in both basketball and softball at Ravenscroft high school; in fact, I was player of the year in both sports my senior year, but basketball was my passion. I went on to play in college at CSU, graduating with BS in Kinesiology and finishing 3rd in school history for 3pt field goal percentage. I actually still hold the single game 3pt records at both the Radford and Campbell University arenas (Go Bucs!). After college, I moved back and began coaching for a short while prior to signing a contract with a professional team in Germany to pursue my dreams of professional basketball. I played for four seasons before retiring from the Bundesliga with a Regionalliga championship and as the league leader in steals, finishing third in points.

During my time playing overseas, I came home each summer for roughly three months and got my start as a strength coach here in Raleigh. I completed my MS in Applied Exercise Science during my time playing overseas and began completing several of my specialized certifications (CES, PES, CSCS, CPT). When I retired from the game in 2018, I dove into strength coaching full time; both managing a local gym and working as a strength coach for Meredith College.

When the Covid-19 Pandemic hit the U.S. in 2020, unfortunately, the gym was forced to shut down and I was let go. I took this opportunity to pivot my career and EB Athletics was born. During quarantine many of the workouts were home programs with videos and zoom calls to keep everyone on track. As restrictions allowed, we began training out of a client’s backyard (with turf!) and welcomed friends, teammates, and neighbors to join for socially distanced speed and agility sessions. When these sessions outgrew the backyard, we moved to the park. With groups capped at 10 per restrictions, we had to add more and more groups running up to 5 a day to get all the athletes in. Then things fell in place for us to move into a facility so we began purchasing equipment and outfitting the space in order to be ready to roll when restrictions were lifted. This is the space we still use over a year later to serve many of our EBA athletes.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
Fortunately for me and for EBA the “pause” Covid-19 pandemic forced on everyone was much needed to get things prepared for opening. However, one of our greatest challenges was actually purchasing equipment with manufacturers closed down and any pre-used equipment being snatched up at a record pace. I began my park workouts with a single set of 6, 12inch hurdles (that actually melted and deformed in the heat of the summer) and about 18 cones that I kept in the back of my car as I drove all around Raleigh, Cary, Apex, Fuquay, Wake Forest, and where ever else I needed to go to train my athletes. Any free time I had was spent teaching myself how to build my own website (thank you Wix) and utilize forums like Quickbooks to do the accounting and learn all the other things I would need to be able to do myself to run a business with limited overhead. This was when the EBA brand was really created and of course, I do have so many people in my support group to thank for their help along the way. Ultimately, the difficulties of starting a business during a pandemic benefitted me in the long run as it forced me to be more creative than I have ever been and this demonstrated to our athletes how they can find a way to reach their goals no matter what.

Appreciate you sharing that. What should we know about EB Athletics?
Today, EB Athletics serves over 100 individual athletes of all sports and skill levels. We work with athletes as young as 10-12 learning the fundamentals and basic movement patterns all the way up to athletes at the professional level. High school and college athletes make up 80% of our clientele with hockey, basketball, soccer, lacrosse, tennis, and rugby being the most popular sports amongst our athletes. Having a specialization in both sports performance and corrective exercise allows me to work with both healthy and injured athletes. Each of these athletes have gone through movement assessments and get regular testing; they each have individual programs designed to meet their specific needs, the demands of their sport and prevent future injuries.

In addition to the individuals we serve, we also train entire teams and have a growing number of adult clientele. High school or club teams will come to us for preseason or off season training (basketball, soccer, softball being the most popular) and adults will come to us for individual strength training.

Lastly, we have numerous partnerships to note. We provide the Strength & Conditioning for all varsity athletes at Meredith College, going on four years now for me as a coach there. We train the United States Marine Corps of Raleigh. We are a return to play site through a partnership with Wake Ortho, aiding in post PT return to play protocol for both athletes and adults. We provide the Sports Performance for Edge Soccer in Brier Creek. And finally, we provide the off-ice training for select Carolina Hurricanes camps.

We have a slogan here at EBA and that’s “GRIT” which stands for Game Ready Intentional Training. The word GRIT itself is also a great representation of what these athletes are made of and what they develop through training and sports. Everything we do is intentional towards the goals we are trying to achieve. At the end of 2020, we held the first annual GRIT awards where we gave out several awards to athletes that exemplified specific characteristics; one of these awards being the “More Than An Athlete” award, encouraging our athletes to get out in the community and impact those around them in a positive way. This is an area we like to lead by example by contributing to various causes throughout the year; the most recent being the equipment drive where we were able to drop off a truckload of sports equipment to our neighbors at the Boys and Girls Club.

An aspect of EBA that I have been increasingly proud of is the environment that has been cultivated in this gym. EBA has become a space where athletes that are new to lifting and strength training can come in and work through a program thats new to them, train right next to a professional athlete, and feel like they belong just the same. It’s where athletes gain confidence, discover new capabilities, and learn to take care of their bodies. Most importantly, though most of these athletes are primarily focused on their current athletic careers, the things they are learning here at EBA are skills that will help them throughout life long after sports.

We’d love to hear about how you think about risk taking?
When I think of risks the first thing that comes to mind is always my professional playing career in Germany. When I first received that offer it was mid-season, the team I signed with hadn’t won a game yet, the coach had just been fired, and they were at risk of being relegated from the league if they didn’t finish out the season with a nearly perfect record. Though that pressure seems daunting, this was a true childhood dream of mine so it really was a no brainer- despite having ten days to prepare, knowing nothing of the language, culture, team, or environment. It was an opportunity to see the world, learn more than I ever could have imagined, and grow into the person I am today. It really came full circle for me when after announcing my retirement, the very club that put their faith in me all those years ago (the Krofdorf Knights) then retired my #17 jersey. So when it came time to take the leap to start EB Athletics in the midst of a global pandemic, I was well versed in risk taking and prepared for the challenges ahead. Thankfully I have a strong support system in family, mentors, friends, teammates (around the world) and former coaches. I know how well taking risks can pay off, and am so humbled by the ever-growing number of athletes that entrust their training with me and my staff here at EBA.

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