Professional athletes are a source of inspiration. We watch in awe during the Olympics as they perform nearly impossible feats—flips, spins, goals and record-breaking times. We don our favorite player’s jersey at hockey, soccer, baseball, basketball or football games and howl with excitement when our team scores. In our society, professional athletes are symbols of dedication and hard work. But when their professional careers come to an end and they hang up their leotards, cleats or jerseys—what comes next?
Minnetonka native and former professional basketball player David Gardner explores the world after professional sports in his podcast The Big Jump. “The mission of The Big Jump is to inspire other people’s next big jump in life,” Gardner says. “It features professional athletes who have created success beyond sports—they make for extremely vivid examples of people who have changed identities.”
Season one features an array of different athletes. Football, swimming, basketball, hockey, soccer—all connected through a common theme: reinvention. Gardner’s first guest was an old friend and former teammate of Gardner’s on the Hopkins High School basketball team, Kris Humphries. The episode explores a side of the Minnetonka resident that much of the outside world doesn’t know—his business empire. In a later episode, Olympic swimmer Christine Magnuson opens up about post-Olympic depression and her life after the Olympics.
These are stories Gardner understands on a personal level. “Part of what inspires me is that it’s also my story,” he says. After a successful high school career at Hopkins High School, Gardner went on to play basketball at Dartmouth and then professionally in Germany. When this part of his life came to an end, Gardner was at a crossroads. He went on to use what he calls his “athletic mind”—leadership, teamwork and goal-setting skills he learned from sports—to create the brand consulting firm ColorJar.
But these stories aren’t just for athletes. “It’s for anyone who has a growth mindset,” says Gardner. “These are life lessons told through sports.” Gardner hopes his podcast will inspire reinvention in all of his listeners, but he has a specific idea of what reinvention actually is. “Reinvention is not like a butterfly,” Gardner says. “It’s more like trees. As we get older, we just add rings. The David of five years ago is still there helping to support the David of now.”
One goal Gardner has for The Big Jump is to help listeners begin to see the many sides of athletes. Gardner also hopes listeners will gain a sense that they are not alone. He recounts a story of a listener who sent him a direct message. “They were a cancer survivor who had lost their business,” he says of the listener. They went on to tell Gardner that his podcast helped them find inspiration in their own moment of reinvention. And to Gardner, this is what it’s all about. “I’d like to impact as many listeners as possible, as deeply as possible,” he says. “Reinvention isn’t easy for anyone. We’re all human.”
Learn more and listen to The Big Jump at the website here, or find it on Apple Podcast and Google Play Music.