Born and raised in the Tampa Bay region, Bryant and Angela Tisdale , husband and wife and owners of Ultimate Stomping Ground, set out five and a half years ago to build an inclusive training facility catering to kids, professional athletes and everyone in-between. Angela shared the story behind their entrepreneurial journey and how their business is changing lives both on and off the field.
“Bryant first had the vision at least 10 years ago,” Angela said. “He played football at the University of Texas at El Paso and later went on to play for the Tampa Bay Storm. He tried to go pro, but after a few workouts and with things not really panning out, he took a job with Brinks. After a couple years, he had enough. He wanted to pursue his passion for athletics and helping our youth prepare for life.”
As Angela shared, it was all “a walk of faith”. Neither of them knew what they were doing, but they trusted God and put their faith in the process. Bryant found a warehouse, made the down payment and went to work. He was still working for Brinks at the time and would spend his days at work and his nights training clients, while his partner would train in the mornings and afternoons. Less than a year of owning the gym, Bryant trained his first professional athlete.
“Leonard Johnson, who was then playing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, wanted to train with us,” Angela said. “He was the cousin of Bryant’s former partner. It just so happened that during this time, Bryant had a week off from work. He was able to devote most of his time to training Leonard. During this week, Bryant became a different person. He was more youthful, happy and less stressed. Even though times were tough and we were only living on one income, we knew this was the right path. After a month of training Leonard, he left for New Jersey, but the business took off.
“Bryant and I prayed about the making the right decision on what to do next,” Angela said. “After praying, we received confirmation from God to go full time with the business. That’s when Bryant left Brinks to focus all of his energy on Ultimate Stomping Ground.”
From the initial 1,000sqft space, the business grew to occupy 2,300sqft. Angela and Bryant hired trainers and expanded their services to include classes, small group training and specific sports training for athletes of all levels and abilities.
“We expanded pretty quickly,” Angela said. “We formed partnerships with the City of Clearwater to run their youth after school training programs, Pasco County to support six of their schools as well as, Pinellas County. Managing our growth became one of our bigger challenges. Also, as first time business owners, we were both wearing multiple hats. Learning how to manage that and price our services correctly was challenging.”
Angela, who handles the administrative side of the business and also ensures class schedules and appointments run smoothly, shared that much of the growth came from word-of-mouth referrals. “Clients enjoyed training with us and they loved to tell others,” she said. “We’ve promoted on social media, but for the most part, clients sharing their experiences have driven the majority of our new business.”
While there are other gyms and training facilities in Pinellas County and throughout Florida, not many churn out the quantity and quality of Division 1 athletes ready to perform at the next level as Ultimate Stomping Ground. Angela shared some of the athletes that have trained at their facility and subsequently earned scholarships and opportunities to play in the pros.
“Artavis Scott, who now plays for the Indianapolis Colts, starting training with Bryant when he was still in high school,” Angela said. “He was a junior at East Lake. He eventually earned an athletic scholarship to attend Clemson University, where he broke Sammy Watkins All-Time reception record. Another success story is Brett Seither. He’s now at The University of Georgia on a athletic scholarship. He initially aspired to play at Maryland, but Bryant knew he was capable of playing at the highest level. Other kids we’ve trained that are now playing or planning on playing Division 1 college footbal on a full ride athletic scholarship include AJ Mathis, who signed to FIU, Quavon Matthews, a wide receiver who is signed to The University of Iowa and Jayion McCluster who signed to FSU.”
For Bryant and Angela , the greatest joy in owning and operating Ultimate Stomping Ground is seeing the progression of the kids they train. Many come in mentally defeated and, through structured training and encouraging guidance, they’re confident they can achieve the goals they aspire to.
“Our kids know they’re going to work,” Angela said. “They also know they’ll be treated just like everyone else. Bryant doesn’t care if he’s training a professional or a kid in middle-school – he treats everyone the same. Whether it’s someone new to sports or a top athlete, we’ve seen tremendous physical transformations in everyone we train. Our athletes get stronger and they all improve the way they play.”
Looking ahead, Bryant and Angela have a vision of more of a “one stop shop” training facility. They’d like to offer physical therapy onsite and have a track and field available for additional training. They’re also focused on expanding their non-profit, Seeds of Promise. Through this organization, Angela and Bryant offer tutoring, college resources and various services designed to prepare kids for life, no matter where it takes them. They’ve also created a 7 on 7 football league that visits colleges including FSU, UCF, Georgia Tech and Georgia to expose kids to college life and show them that anything is possible.
What advice does Angela have for aspiring entrepreneurs? “I’m a believer,” she said. “If God is tugging on your heart to do something, then do it. Life is too short to not be obedient. Don’t worry about income and other things that come with it. God will provide you with the tools you need. We are an example of that. When we started, we had very little income, but over time, everything has worked out. We’ve been blessed. I’d also encourage people to seek out advice from other entrepreneurs and to ‘legalize’ yourself and your business as early as possible. Take your time with the paperwork, separate your finances and make sure you’re properly insured and protected. If we didn’t do these things, we never would have been able to work with the school systems.”