Jack Brandt, a three-sport star at Bishop Eustace Prep School, suffered season-ending injuries during his junior and senior years in baseball for the Crusaders.
But instead of feeling sorry for himself, Brandt served as the Crusaders’ pitching coach.
Last year, as a sophomore on the Coast Guard Academy football team, Brandt suffered another season-ending injury in the fourth game.
Once again, Brandt didn’t mope. Instead, of wearing a helmet, he wore a headset during the games.
“I was able to listen to what the coaches were saying on the sideline and it was a different perspective,” Brandt said. “Not a lot of college athletes get that opportunity.”
The series of unlucky injuries have made the athletic 6-foot-4, 225-pound Brandt even hungrier and more appreciative.
“It has made me want to be better and to appreciate playing sports even more,” Brandt said. “I got to focus on another aspect of my life when I was injured. I got the focus on other aspects of my game and on the medical side that was big.
“From coaching, I was able to learn a whole new perspective.”
The maturity of Brandt is rather remarkable, but not really surprising. The Brandts of Marlton are a first-class family.
Jack’s father, John, was the general manager of the old Camden Riversharks of the Atlantic League from their inception in 2001 to 2005. John Brandt, a star baseball player at Yale University, managed all aspects of the Riversharks’ business and baseball operations and was named Atlantic League Executive of the Year in 2002.
Jack’s mother, Mary Clare was a cross-country skier and played soccer at St. Michael’s College in Vermont where she is in the Athletic Hall of Fame before transferring to Boston College, where she sailed. She works at St. Joan of Arc in Marlton where she is also a volunteer coach.
Mary Clare is also battling breast cancer. She underwent surgery in March and has finished radiation treatment.
She threw the ceremonial first pitch at the Bishop Eustace Coaches vs. Cancer baseball game last spring.
“She's doing great,” Jack said lovingly about his mom.
Jack’s younger brother, Kevin, was also a three-sport star – football, basketball and baseball - at Bishop Eustace.
Last fall, both Jack and Kevin suffered season ending injuries on the same weekend. Kevin, the Crusaders’ quarterback, tore his anterior cruciate ligament.
Currently, Kevin is redshirting at Western New England University in Springfield, Massachusetts.
“Everything I have become is because of my parents and the support of my brother,” Jack said. “They raised me to be a good Catholic gentleman and I try to be that every single day.”
Last week, Jack Brandt, a junior defensive tackle was named the CGASPORTS.COM Athlete of the Week for his dominating two-sack performance in the Bears 13-0 win over Nichols. Brandt and the Coast Guard defense held Nichols to 123 yards total offense, including only 25 in the second half, to end the Bison’s six-game regular season winning streak.
Brandt also contributed six tackles and a pass breakup as the Bears held Nichols to just 32 yards rushing on 33 carries and Coast Guard held the Bison to negative 18 yards of total offense in the fourth quarter.
The Coast Guard (3-1, 1-0 in the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference) plays Catholic University (2-2, 0-1) on Saturday at home for Parents Weekend.
If friends of the Brandt family can’t get to New London, Connecticut for a Coast Guard game, the Bears will play Merchant Marine in the season finale that will be televised by the ESPN family of networks on Veterans Day, Nov. 11.
Truly, family and friends are more important to Brandt than sacks and a Player of the Week award.
“I definitely try to put other people first because at the end of the day that's all that matters,” Brandt said, “and it has been other people who have put me in a great position I am in today and I owe it to them to get back.”
Coast Guard is off to its best start since 2007 and is No. 9 in the first New England Division III football weekly rankings.
With three wins, Coast Guard has already matched its win total from last year when the team finished 3-7.
Brandt and the Coast Guard defense has not allowed a touchdown in nine straight quarters and has been touched for only 44 points this season for the least amount of points allowed through the first four games in 43 years.
The Bears boast the top defense in the NEWMAC, allowing just 11 points per game, which is tied for 16th nationally in Division III. The Bears also have the top rush defense in the NEWMAC allowing just 105.5 yards per game.
Last season, Brandt missed the final six games with the broken finger and finished with five tackles, two for loss, in a backup role. As a freshman, he had 18 tackles, ten solo and one for loss.
“It is definitely an advantage being more athletic than the guy in front of me,” Brandt said about playing inside on the defensive line at 225 pounds.
He is also a pitcher on the Coast Guard baseball team.
“The baseball is an absolute joy,” Brandt said, “to play is fun.”
Brandt is a government major.
“I want to apply for flight school,” Brandt said. “I had a real good experience flying a plane this summer.”
First, though, Coast Guard hosts its first NEWMAC football game in school history as part of Parents' Weekend.
“I play for every one of my brothers on the field, they are a great group of guys and my best friends in the world,” Brandt said. “And I play for my parents. I try to make them proud. They sacrificed so much for me and my brother that we can play sports.
“So anytime I go on the field I just give it 100 percent because I know how much and how many people are behind me.”