After a successful career as a wide receiver for the Florida Gators, Mike Wehrell aimed to conquer the business world. Now the CEO of VertiMax, Wehrell shares his insights on athletics, business and the future for athletes once their playing careers are over.
STACK: When did you start thinking about life after football?
Wehrell: I always wanted to play in the NFL in high school, but when I went on to college, I knew it wasn't a reality. I started thinking about life after football at a very early stage ,as a freshman in college. I had a great experience playing with the Gators, but I also focused on my academics, earning a Masters degree in electrical engineering. (Read 16 Reasons Why Athletes Are More Successful in Life.)
STACK: How did athletics help shape VertiMax?
Wehrell: I grew up playing a wide range of sports, from football and track to volleyball, so I've had a lot of experience with the struggles of training in the weight room. The frustrations of getting stronger and not jumping higher, increasing your Squat and not running faster are consistent ones. As an athlete, I've learned from these experiences and I've been able to relate to coaches and trainers from that standpoint, which has given me credibility. Fortunately, VertiMax is an attempt to fix all of these frustrations by translating low velocity strength gains to high velocity explosive performance in the field of play. Every coach wants to do that, but it's very difficult to accomplish.
STACK: As a former athlete, how rewarding is it to see the light bulb go on in an athlete's or a coach's head once they realize the value of the VertiMax to changing their life and the way they perform?
Wehrell: As a former athlete, it's always great to see an athlete's eyes light up after they do a contrast set training with the VertiMax. Seeing how much higher they're jumping and faster they're running without the resistance is a great feeling. It's a sense of accomplishment knowing you are helping athletes take their game to the next level and potentially opening doors, giving them the opportunity to make their dreams a reality. Developing a product that is going to permanently change lives long after I'm around is what motivates me every day.
STACK: What advice could you give to other athletes who are thinking about their life after the game?
Wehrell: The first step is the initial thought of what your future will look like after the game. Far too often we get caught up in our hopes and dreams, and many athletes don't realize the odds of actually making it to play professionally. So, first and foremost is having that thought process and then, second, thinking about what you like to do. The most important advice I have is from my dad: "if you're going to do something, like what you do and be the best at it." If you find out what you like, learn how to be the best at it and enjoy waking up every day and going to work, then you have won the game.