Meet the Founders: Shawn Stasko
Shawn Stasko is more than passionate about his work with Sword. How did his background contribute to the product? And to his process in general? We sat down to discuss heroes, education, and baseball.
What's your history in sports?
Growing up I played baseball, very competitively. I earned a spot on the little league All-California regional team where I manned short stop and second base. In high school my primary sport was track and field where I specialized in the sprint and jump events. I continued running at a collegiate level my freshman year of college, but when I tore a hamstring, I decided to put athletics on hold and focus more on my education. Thankfully with resistance training and physical therapy, I started running post-injury and was gradually became fond of the longer distances. Now I enjoy all types of activities, from trail running to road cycling, sprinkled in with some high intensity resistance training of course.
What did you study in school?
I earned my Bachelors of Science in Sports Biology from Springfield College, where I concentrated in Sports Nutrition and Kinesiology. At Springfield I was immersed in the athletic culture and was able to study how an athlete's body can be tuned with nutrition and training to improve their sport-specific performance. I wanted to dive deeper into this art still, so I moved onto the University of Kentucky College of Medicine where I earned a Ph.D. in Physiology. At Kentucky, their Center for Muscle Biology put some of the world leaders who study muscular fatigue, adaptation, and growth right at my fingertips. My doctoral studies focused primarily on skeletal muscle and the redox mechanisms behind weakness and fatigue. My education has yet to stop as now I learn from each athlete I work with on how we fine tune their nutrition in concert with sport-specific training to push their boundaries of human performance.
Throughout your history in education and athletics, who were your idols?
No idols, but my father was someone I've always looked up to for his ability to balance family, sports, and his professional career. Professionally, I admire Kevin Plank, the founder of UnderArmour. His can-do attitude and willingness to seize an opportunity at a young age is inspiring. He wasn't afraid of the 'big boys' in the industry, and believed in what he started. Also Tim Butterfield Ph.D., a visionary in the field of muscle mechanics and massage research. I had the chance to collaborate with him on a few research projects while at the University of Kentucky, and the creative artistry he incorporates into the rigors of science is truly astounding.
How did your background help you better formulate SWORD?
With my experience in skeletal muscle physiology and Scott's professional training in sports medicine, we have a firm grasp on how certain nutritional components work in an athlete's body. More importantly though, our passion to push the boundaries of human performance fueled some long days of R&D as we tinkered with each ingredient of the formula. Sword was pretty raw at the beginning, but we methodically tuned each ingredient until we both were impressed with it's abilities. We're proud of the product we've produced and know that anyone who uses it will see what we worked so hard to get right.
What have you enjoyed most about the Sword journey so far?
The people I meet and their stories after they've tried SWORD for the first time. We get involved with a lot of events where it's new to the participants. Often times they're at a pivotal point in a race and really need a fuel to keep them going that won't upset their stomach. When they finish and come find us at our tent, its like they're kids again on Christmas morning. Some people will even tell us they chose that event just because SWORD was offered on the course. Responses like that validate all the hard work we put in and fuel the journey.