brandon zywicki

Anyone who follows Brandon Zywicki (@zawick55) is familiar with his story. For those of you who aren’t, we sat down for a Q&A session to help him share his motivational message.

BPI: How old were you when you started playing baseball?

Brandon Zywicki: I’d say 6 or 8 years old… I’m a little foggy there, so let’s say 7.

BPI: Was there a particular moment you realized you were better than everyone else?

BZ: My stepfather is the one who recognized that I could throw abnormally far for my age when I was younger. It wasn’t until I was a tenth grader that I knew I was on a different level. It was the playoffs and I remember some of the parents arguing that I should be playing with the seniors, not the other players my age.

BPI: Tell us about being an All-American athlete at Central Arizona.

BZ: It was the best feeling in the world. Central Arizona is in the hardest Division 1 junior college offense in the league, and they produced the most Major League draft picks of any college. Our school averaged around eight draft picks a year, more than schools like LSU or Oregon State, so a lot of guys would come to our school with the hopes of getting drafted quicker.

BPI: And yet you weren’t drafted. Why?

BZ: I was a small guy. The scouts told me I needed to gain weight, get stronger, and get more consistent with my pitch speed. I would hit 93 mph here and there, which was impressive, but I had trouble maintaining that speed throughout the season.

BPI: Did you follow the scouts’ advice?

BZ: I took their advice to heart. I went on my own training program where I trained 4-6 times a day and ate 10,000 calories – every day. I put on 20 lbs. of muscle in a couple of months.

BPI: What was your goal?

BZ:  I wanted to improve my stamina as far as my pitch speed, but overall my goal was to be drafted.

BPI: Tell us about moving off campus.

BZ: I wanted to see if I could live on my own. If I was gonna go pro, I’d have to get used to it, and I wanted to feel like an adult. Plus, I wanted to control what I was eating. The cafeteria on campus just wasn’t cutting it and had limits on the times I could eat. Obviously that wasn’t conducive to my 10,000-calorie-a-day meal plan.

My roommate and I found the apartment on Craigslist. It was really cheap, so we decided to move in without looking into the neighborhood or anything.

brandon reading

BPI: Did you feel safe there?

BZ: At first, yeah. I felt that my size would prevent anyone from messing with me, and during the daytime, no one was outside. I guess I just assumed it was safe, but there were no gates up, so anyone could walk in and walk around.

BPI: What happened in November?

BZ: It was one or two weeks before Thanksgiving break. I had started to make some progress with my stamina. I was throwing in the 90s pretty consistently and felt like I was set. Then one night, I was stopped at a red light and a guy approached my car with a knife. He tried to force me out of the car, but I drove off. He hung on to the door and managed to get a few hits in on me, mostly bruises and scratches to my face and body. It was nothing too serious, but I still have scars.

I didn’t tell anybody. I covered it up the next day because I didn’t want the coaches to think I wasn’t fit to play. I didn’t want to stress. I didn’t want anyone to worry about me… I just put on a poker face.

BPI: Was that the only time you were attacked?

BZ: No. When I got home from practice the following day, there was a guy waiting for me in my apartment parking lot with a fire extinguisher. He put it in my window and gassed me out. When I got out of the car, he hit me with the extinguisher. I managed to grab a rock I found on the ground and fought back. He ran off, but I followed him back to his place and called the cops. As soon as they arrested him and drove off, a group of about six guys showed up and followed me back home. They kept saying I’d messed up and they were gonna come for me. I moved out of the apartment that night.

BPI: How were your health and athletic career affected by these back-to-back incidents?

BZ: Even after I’d moved into my new apartment, I was being tailed. I noticed cars from my old apartment complex following me to campus and to practice. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat… I was so stressed. I dropped 20 lbs. in a week and lost all the stamina I’d gained. That year was the worst I’ve ever played in my life. I just wasn’t the same person.

BPI: Did you seek help?

BZ: I tried going back home to see doctors, but nothing worked. I’d do well for a few games and then I’d get in my head again. My coach at the University of San Francisco is actually the one who helped me the most. He was a sports psychologist and was able to help me look at the entire situation differently.

BPI: Were you able to play baseball again?

BZ: I was already signed with the University of San Francisco, but it didn’t work out. I was hesitant to develop relationships with the coaches, other than the one that helped me. They didn’t understand what I was going through, I didn’t trust them, and I ended up leaving. I wasn’t ready to stop playing though. I reached out to my pitching coach from Central Arizona and he managed to get me a scholarship to Missouri Baptist University. It was there that I worked my way back to being an All-American, and eventually, I went pro in Australia.

BPI: How did you get into bodybuilding?

BZ: When I finished playing baseball, I continued working out, but started to lift heavier. Without baseball, it was easier to do two-a-days, and naturally I started gaining muscle. Someone approached me and told me I should compete, but it wasn’t until I got positive feedback on social media too that I took it seriously. I truly believe that bodybuilding is what helped me work through my issues and eventually overcome what happened to me. I’ve found such great support within this community.

brandon zywicki competition

BPI: How do you plan to help others dealing with situations similar to yours?

BZ: I was always the guy on the baseball team offering advice to my teammates or helping them through a tough patch. To this day, I still have guys reach out to me. I enjoy using my experience to help talk people through the things they’re struggling with. I’m currently getting my Masters in Psychology, so hopefully one day I can help people on a professional level.

BPI: What goal are you working towards now?

BZ: I really look up to Logan Franklin and Andrei Dieu. I try to model my physique after theirs and look as shredded as they look. I don’t believe I have the bone structure to be a competitive bodybuilder, but I know my ability to adapt is out of the ordinary and I want to make my BPI family proud. In the next five months, I’m hoping to qualify nationally.

BPI: Is there anything else you want people to know about you?

BZ: The world is yours. Anything can happen for anybody!