Danielle Brandon Talks Leaving Underdogs on Brute Strength Podcast
Three-time CrossFit Games athlete Danielle Brandon made headlines in early July when she announced her departure from Underdogs Athletics and coach Justin Cotler. As the rumor mill churned, Brandon took a red eye to Naples, FL, where she will finish out her Games training with the Brute Strength crew. She recently sat down with Brute Strength Podcast host Micah Shoemaker to go over her experience.
The details: Brandon admitted that, while the Internet largely had other ideas, leaving Underdogs “wasn’t necessarily (her) choice.”
- Brandon: “It was not something I had planned for, because what idiot would choose to leave the camp a month before the Games.”
Since joining the Brute Strength camp, Brandon says she’s found more motivation to train and get better than ever before. Head coach Matt Torres gives more focused, individualized programming than Brandon was used to, a factor that’s proved invigorating for her. She’s currently staying in Syndicate Crown sixth-place finisher James Sprague’s house and primarily training with Games competitor Dallin Pepper.
Remind me: Underdogs Athletics got their boost in fame during the 2020 CrossFit Games season with three key athletes, including Brandon, Kari Pearce, and Bethany Shadburne. Brandon says the group came together, as well as Cotler, because of how well they blended together. However, now that the camp has gotten more attention and more athletes have flocked to train there, the environment has become too toxic and hard to handle for Brandon.
- “It takes a really good leader to be able to control that environment,” Brandon. “When shit goes down, confrontation and hard conversations need to be had, and it just wasn’t. I get it, it’s a hard environment, especially with athletes— athletes are fucking crazy.”
The bottom line: Brandon’s departure from her camp, which she had been with since 2020, so close to the Games will prove a big test. With a self-proclaimed tendency to run hot under the stress of competition, Brandon will have a lot to manage in Madison. However, with only a few days of training at Brute under her belt, she seems to have found at least a temporary home–only time will tell if she stays after the 2022 season ends.