Athlete Spotlight: Briana Hamilton and Brandon Bergin

Apr 24, 2015 Jamie Tebaldi
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In this week's SAGL Athlete Spotlight, we talk to the Briana Hamilton of the South Carolina Titans, and Brandon Bergin of the Capital City Silverbacks.
What's your day job?
HAMILTON: I work at CrossFit Hit & Run in downtown Memphis, TN. I love what I do. I love watching people get better every day at their fitness. During the months of May through August I play professional softball for the Penn. Rebellion.
BERGIN: Civil Engineer for a railroad company. I'm a nerd at work. Also in the gym. I'm pretty much a nerd everywhere.
How did you hear about grid and what interested you most about it?
HAMILTON: I heard about grid through Taylar Stallings (current DC Brawlers athlete). I competed against Taylar at the Crush Games a few years back and I have followed/kept up with her ever since. It drew me in immediately because it was a TEAM sport. I consider myself a very selfless person, and I love doing whatever it takes to make my teammates around me better. Whatever it takes.
BERGIN: First heard about it during the combine in Atlanta last year. I had several friends that went. I didn't attend because I thought it looked silly and I was busy training for Regionals. Fast forward to the actual matches and I started to see how much fun it looked like. The most interesting part is that I can ignore the stuff I'm awful at. Weaknesses kill you in CrossFit. But in grid, I can let somebody else on my team do the handstand walks and 225 lb snatches for reps. :)
What's your training schedule like?
HAMILTON: My training schedule is pretty laid back. I do not have a personal coach that programs for me. I program for myself and typically hit all areas of our sport especially my weakness. I follow a very specific Olympic Lifting program that my friend Allison McCracken receives from her personal coach, but other than that I just "wing" it. I have fun with it!
BERGIN: Having a corporate job makes things like two-a-days practically impossible. I train after work in the evenings, typically sometime between 4 and 8, and I rest 1-2 days a week.
Have you changed your training style at all to be more grid-specific?
HAMILTON: For my grid training focus I have done more interval training with built-in rest. I have tried to focus on moving heavier loads more efficiently and being more comfortable repping heavier weights out. I have also been drilling gymnastics skills. I have a day where I try to be "gymnasty" haha; not always successful, but I try!
BERGIN: Up until about three weeks ago, no. I was still following the same "CrossFit" programming I had been doing for the past two years. When I realized I was not qualifying for Regionals and could afford some time off from CrossFit for a little bit, I switched coaches/programming to a pretty grid-specific format. (Shout-out for Paul Beckwith... do I get like a commission check or what bro?)
What is your past experience with sports?
HAMILTON: I have played sports since I could walk. In high school I played softball, basketball, and golf. I went on to play D1 softball at Florida State University and ended my career there last spring (2014) in OKC at the Woman's College World Series.
BERGIN: I was a competitive swimmer my entire childhood, into high school, and two years into college. Then one morning as I was walking to the pool at 5am, I decided I hated it. I started lifting weights more seriously and found CrossFit not too long after.
Who is your favorite athlete and/or inspiration?
HAMILTON: My favorite athletes or inspirations growing up have always been Natasha Watley and Michael Jordan. Always wanted to be able to be smooth like Natasha when she played short stop, and I hoped and prayed I could hit like she could. Crazy to think about but now I play against my idol in the NPF (National Pro Fastpitch League). Michael inspired me because he was cut from his high school basketball team his sophomore year but look at him now. He stayed true to himself and dreams and made it happen despite what people said.
BERGIN: Henry Rowengartner. Maybe one day I'll suffer some quirky injury then be able to snatch 315...
(Props if you get the reference. I joke because I honestly don't have a serious answer to this one. Is it cliché if I say Rich Froning?)
Favorite fitness brand?
HAMILTON: Nike!!!! FSU and my high school (James F. Byrnes High School) are sponsored by Nike so it's all I know. :) I also love my sponsor BoxJunkieApparel. Neither of the two brands let me down!
BERGIN: Plug for #overheadapparel
Also love my Lululemon. No shame.
Do you have any pre-match rituals?
HAMILTON: My pre-match ritual is to shower the morning of competition and get a fresh shave in. Weird I know but it starts the day off right!
BERGIN: I talk a lot of smack. Mostly to my own teammates. It sounds weird but it simultaneously hypes me up and calms me down a little bit. Other than that I do a lot of visualization. That's something an old swim coach was big on and instilled in me. I just take a few minutes, sit by myself, and mentally go through everything I plan to do, with flawless execution.
What's one of your non-athletic hobbies?
HAMILTON: Non-athletic hobbies would have to be eating, drawing, and friends/family time. I love to cook and finding neat new places to eat all over. I like to draw because it relaxes me and eases the mind. And the friends and family is self-explanatory. I love our lazy days of doing absolutely nothing but being more than content with each other's company.
BERGIN: I play in a poker group twice a month with a bunch of guys around Atlanta. We actually have a tournament series every year and sponsor some trips to the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas (shameless brag - I won for 2014).
Any advice for people who are new to grid?
HAMILTON: Be selfless, open minded, pay attention to detail, and know your role as an athlete. Be willing to do what's best for the TEAM whatever that may involve.
BERGIN: It definitely requires some thinking. Watch some of the pro matches on YouTube. Like any other sport, it can be played at a simple level without a whole lot of strategy, but there is so much that can separate really good players/teams on the mental side of things.
How can people follow you?
HAMILTON: My handle for Twitter and Instagram are both @breezyham24. Facebook I am Briana "Breezy" Hamilton.
BERGIN: @bmbergin on Instagram! No Facebook athlete page yet; what are the minimum accomplishments for making one of those things anyway...