He majored in K-12 P.E./athletic training at Western Illinois, but it was a psychology elective that BRENDAN McHALE counts as the most impactful college course he took in the late ’80s.
“I learned lessons that helped me understand why some individuals act the way they do,” he says, “and how to better help these individuals be successful.”
It’s a skill that’s come in handy both on and off the job he’s held since 2018 — athletic director at Parkland College.
The Cobras’ former head athletic trainer — and 2009 Hall of Fame inductee — took time out to answer a few questions from Editor Jeff D’Alessio in the 61st installment of our weekly speed read spotlighting leaders of organizations big and small.
My one unbreakable rule of the workplace is … do not do anything that is not safe for our student-athletes, coaches or staff.
I’m frugal in that … I usually don’t buy something unless I truly need it. However, around my house, I usually wear sweatshirts, T-shirts and sweatpants until they are unrecognizable.
It is at this moment that my wife or kids usually “secretly” throw them away.
The last luxury in which I indulged was … taking my family on a cruise in the summer of 2019. We had a great time.
Recently, I bought a new suit for my son’s wedding.
When it comes to my philosophy on meetings … my preference is to have everyone in attendance share some of their successes and experiences on topics we will discuss.
I am a firm believer that we all have something that we bring to the table and can learn from each other.
The goal is to have all staff meetings go no longer than 60 minutes unless there is a good group discussion taking place. I ask all head coaches to be in attendance and invite all assistant coaches, as well.
I can’t live without my … family and our vacations at the lake. Spending time with my wife and kids “off the grid” is priceless.
The hardest thing about being a leader is … getting accurate information and answers to the staff, colleagues or administration in a timely manner.
Sometimes, the questions asked require gathering information from several individuals before I can make sure the information delivered is helpful.
My single favorite moment of all time in this job was … in January 2020, home basketball game and this was the same day of the 2019 Parkland College Hall of Fame induction Ceremony Day.
All of the current student-athletes were at this event watching the basketball game.
With 10 seconds left in the game, our Cobras are up by one point and the visiting team was shooting two free throws.
Our student-athletes were so loud and into the game, the opposing shooter missed both free throw attempts. Cobras won by one point. A team that works toward the same common goal is very difficult to beat. Go Cobras.
My business role model is … Studer Group, led by Quint Studer. It’s a business model that focuses on many values, but I appreciate their focus of team collaboration, inclusion and excellence.
Also, my father, Jack McHale, who led by the example of work hard and be kind to people.
I’m up and at ’em every day by … 7 a.m. typically. Start with some coffee and check in on local and national news.
My exercise routine … lacks consistency, unfortunately.
When I am in a good routine, I lift two to three days a week and bike twice a week.
The worst job I ever had was … a summer job after high school working as a busboy. This was not a local establishment — it was out of state.
The job itself was not terrible, but the individuals that I worked with complained all the time, talked about people behind their back and these individuals just did not want to work.
There was absolutely no team mentality at all, and, unfortunately, it was just not a good working environment.