It didn't end the way he hoped it would, but Kaleb Redden's experience on NBC's athletic competition series, "The Titan Games," is something he will always cherish.
Redden, a former Big Blue at Utah State, recently appeared on season two of Dwayne Johnson's "The Titan Games." The 35-year-old husband and father of three was a competitor in the Central Region.
Nicknamed Doc Thor due to the fact he looks similar to Chris Hemsworth, the actor who plays Thor in the Marvel movies, Redden easily defeated his opponent on the "Chain Linked" and "Kick Out" challenges before losing to former Cleveland Browns offensive lineman Joe Thomas on Mount Olympus.
Redden got his chance at redemption on the second episode he appeared on, but could not make it back to Mount Olympus after being ousted in the "Resistance" challenge.
The native of Big Piney, Wyo., initially came to Utah State to play football, but back surgery during the spring before he started derailed those plans and sent him on a different path. Redden joined the Utah State Cheer Squad, cheering from 2006-09 before becoming Big Blue – the Aggies' lovable mascot – his final year at USU.
Redden graduated from Utah State in 2009 with a bachelor's degree in kinesiology and minor in chemistry. He is now employed at St. Luke's in Boise, Idaho, as a sports medicine physician.
Redden is also a certified ring-side physician and combat sports medicine specialist currently serving as the deputy commissioner and chief medical officer for the Idaho Athletic Commission. He is one of the team physicians for Mountain View High School, local Idaho rodeos, Idaho Steelheads semi-professional hockey, UFC MMA, Bellator MMA, Kaged Muscle Fitness, which includes professional MMA fighters, Olympic gymnasts, collegiate and professional football players, professional power lifters and bodybuilders.
As the nation battles COVID-19, many essential employees and health care providers are going above and beyond every day, including Redden.
In honor of our former student-athletes who are on the front lines fighting the coronavirus around the world, Utah State Athletics has created the Q&A series: Aggie Healthcare Heroes. If you are a former USU student-athlete and are on the frontlines of the pandemic, please contact Wade Denniston at firstname.lastname@example.org.
USU: First off, how are you doing, and how are your family and friends doing?
Redden: My family and I are well. We are much better now that home school is out for the summer.
USU: What types of precautions are you taking in the wake of COVID-19?
Redden: We have followed CDC guidelines and stayed in as much as possible, but work doesn't change for me as a doctor. We are always dealing with infections and communicable disease.
USU: What have the past couple of months been like for you at work?
Redden: Work has been busy. We have been unloading the ER as much as possible by seeing urgent orthopedic problems and seeing walk-in patients so they can avoid the ER. We have also been spending more time with people educating them on disease.
USU: You, along with medical professionals working in hospitals all across the world, have been on the frontlines and have seen what most of the world has not seen. Do you have a message for the general public on the severity of what you've seen and experienced first-hand?
Redden: The best way to combat disease has always been, and always will be, to live healthy, eat a nutritious and balanced diet and exercise, as well as decrease risk factors like type 2 diabetes, obesity and don't destroy your immune system with things like smoking. It is also important to get vaccinated, which in turn, creates herd immunity and protects all of us.
USU: How did your journey to becoming a sports medicine doctor begin?
Redden: I was an athlete at Utah State, but had injuries and was introduced to the sports medicine doctor there on campus, so I changed my major and began the pursuit. I was always employed during school as a roughneck on drilling rigs in Wyoming and after I graduated I worked in the oil patch for a year before going to medical school.
USU: How did your experience as a cheerleader/mascot at Utah State prepare you for your role in the medical profession?
Redden: As a full-time student-athlete at USU, I was able to do community service and be part of a team that was constantly giving back to the community, developing leadership skills, organizational skills and communication skills that have been paramount in my career as a doctor.
USU: What is a word of advice for people during this pandemic?
Redden: Don't be scared. Fear will not improve anyone's circumstance. Use common sense, protect yourself and your family, but remember to be kind, reasonable and patient with everyone. Don't stop exercising just because your normal routine is messed up.
USU: What part of your job is helping the fight against COVID-19?
Redden: I work part time with a remote health solutions company. They are a tele-medicine company, which is hugely beneficial in the fight against COVID.
USU: What was your favorite sport to be Big Blue at?
Redden: My favorite sport for Big Blue was both basketball and football games.
USU: What was the best part about being Big Blue?
Redden: Repelling from the jumbotron and doing events for kids like the 'Make a Wish Foundation' and visiting terminally ill kids in the hospitals.
USU: How did you become a competitor on "The Titan Games?"
Redden: NBC and "The Titan Games" crew contacted me and asked me to try out due to my reputation, job, story and athletic ability. It was all shot in January of this year. We were in Georgia for three weeks shooting. Prior to that, the first session was in Los Angeles right next to Jay Leno's garage, where we did the combine to make the actual cut.
USU: After they contacted you, what made you want to try out for "The Titan Games?"
Redden: My kids love the show, they love Dwayne Johnson and I love to compete. It felt like a win-win.
USU: What did you hope to accomplish by being on the show?
Redden: To share the message that anyone can achieve greatness regardless of circumstance, status, position, DNA or any other perceived obstacle. Also, I just wanted to share the experience with my kids.
USU: It seems like there are a lot of interesting contestants from all walks of life on the show. How rewarding is it being part of something like that?
Redden: The Titans they brought to the show are all remarkable people, and I am humbled and blessed to be counted as one of them.
USU: How much interaction did each contestant get with Dwayne Johnson, and what is some advice he gave you?
Redden: We all got to spend time with Dwayne. As the filming progressed, some got more than others based on how they did in the show. I was there the whole time, so I spent a fair amount of time with him. He didn't give me any advice, but I gave him a bit, though. He had just lost his father and we talked about loss, we talked about being fathers, talked about the gym, talked about how to make health fitness part of life for everyone. We also talked about injury – he and I have had a few of the same.
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