A Year Later: A Profile on Stanford Football’s Lane Veach ’18 & His Career Start in Design

Lane, How would you characterize your Stanford experience?

Eye-opening and maturing. Coming from Chandler, Arizona, a sprawling suburb of Phoenix, I was not sure what to expect when I arrived at Stanford for the first time. Over the years I would become very familiar with the beast that is Silicon Valley. It was a formative time for me and as different challenges presented themselves, I was able to grow and mature through the high demands of being a student athlete at Stanford.  

You’re now a year removed from graduating. Looking back, is there a takeaway from your time at Stanford? 

You are who you surround yourself with. My biggest takeaway from Stanford that applies to my life today is the contagious culture and work ethic of the people that make the university what it is. In the Bay Area, we are surrounded and challenged by ultra-successful and hardworking people. It is impossible to live in the shadow of some of the most influential companies that are shaping the world we live in and not want to contribute to something bigger than yourself. 

You dealt with a lot of injuries that prevented you from getting on the field as much as you would have liked? How challenging was that for you?

Extremely challenging. Each injury came at a time when I had the opportunity to prove myself to my coaches and show that I could be depended on to perform, but when I needed my body the most, it failed me. I broke my right hand twice in freak consecutive accidents: once in practice during my junior fall camp and 10 weeks later in a game the day before I was to be cleared from the prior broken metacarpal. By the time I recovered fully, my senior season was approaching fast. I gave it my all with the limited time I had left, but I was too late. From the time you step foot on campus your clock is ticking. New guys that are equally or more talented than you are being recruited and developed. That is the beauty of the competitive environment that is Stanford. It makes you want to be your best in all aspects of your life.

What did you learn about yourself by sitting out and experiencing consecutive injuries?

A mindset I adopted in the design school is to see failure as an opportunity to learn and improve. Did it suck to watch other teammates get opportunities that I had worked hard for? You bet. Was I happy watching from the sidelines as an upperclassman? Not one bit. But I learned from it. First, I learned that everyone has a role. Whether it’s in on your collegiate or youth team or later in your professional career, it takes a collective effort for a team to be successful. From players, football and strength coaches, administrative staff, equipment, video team, chefs, and janitors, I estimate that there are over 200 people that make up our extended team. There are only 22 starting positions and not everyone can have them. Individual sacrifices must be made to help the team to reach it’s collective goals.

The other valuable lesson that I learned is best summarized by former Navy SEAL and ultramarathon runner, David Goggins. He states that “Life isn't fair, it's not supposed to be. Life is not biased toward anyone. It does not discriminate. Once you accept the fact that life is going to *mess* you up in one way or another you can start preparing for it. The right mindset is everything.” How you react and move forward will define you. I did not want to allow this one instance of bad luck to tarnish all of the great memories I made over the years with some of my best friends. Stanford is not a 4 year decision, it’s a 40 year decision and I am grateful to be a part of the Stanford family.

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Did you injury experience change your relationship with football? 

I love football, but there comes a time in every athlete’s career when it is time to hang up the cleats. If anything, my injuries forced me to make a plan for my future outside of football. Nowadays there is a lot more information about the long term effects that contact sports can have on the brain. It is interesting to see professional athletes prioritizing their long term health and stepping away from the paychecks and fame because of these findings. I see it as a blessing that I was able to come out the other side relatively unscathed and with a world class education.

Let’s talk about your career in design. Was design something you were always interested in?

Whether it was building LEGO, sketching the world around me, or learning to use my dad's power tools, I have always had a passion for creating. Through my education at the Stanford Design (d) School, I have developed technical skills in addition to a design thinking methodology that aids me in my pursuits to creatively solve problems. This mindset has embedded itself into the way I see the world and in each project I undertake.

You’ve now recently started a new role as a Design Fellow for TeachAids. What excited you about that opportunity? 

At TeachAids we are combining state of the art VR technology with a charge to educate millions about concussions. Having suffered concussions during my football years, I knew that this opportunity would allow me to help serve those who are largely uneducated about the risks and stigma surrounding this invisible injury.

And you’re involved in creating a virtual reality concussion program that can reach 100 million coaches, players, parents over the next five years. Can you tell us more about that project and share how your experience at Stanford makes you a great fit to lead that?

Honestly, the team at TeachAids is amazing and I am so grateful to be a small part of it. The idea for CrashCourse was born out of a research based class taught by the our founder, Piya Sorcar, that myself and many of my teammates had the pleasure of taking. We conducted research and met with middle school and high school youth to test some of the early ideas for this product. It was one of my favorite classes because we worked towards solving a real world problem rather than a hypothetical one. The curriculum will have 4 parts when completed, all free to view. The first, which will be rolled out later this year, is an interactive film that puts the viewer on the field during a high school football game. The film features my former teammates, including All-American Bryce Love, sharing the latest medical knowledge about concussion prevention and treatment. It’s an awesome product and I encourage everyone who reads this to go check out the web version.

My experience with the athletic trainers and strength staff at Stanford prepared me for this role by helping me through my own concussion process and recovery. Seeing the way that everyone responded to the seriousness of concussions taught me to prioritize my cognitive health and to not rush back into full participation. Some of the CrashCourse curriculum is driven by research performed at Stanford and was implemented during my time there, so being able to utilize groundbreaking research in recovery was pretty exciting!  

If you could go back and give yourself one piece of advice as a student-athlete, what would it be?

Take advantage of every single opportunity that presents itself. Do not be afraid to step out your comfort zone and go talk to that CEO that came to campus to give a guest lecture. Secondly, make meaningful connections. It’s one thing to network and to have a “what can you do for me” attitude but, someone is much more likely to help you if you have established a real relationship with them.   

Finish this sentence: My biggest strength as a leader is…

Valuing other’s life experience and perspectives. As someone who considers themselves a lifelong learner, I find it imperative to surround yourself with new fresh ideas, in addition to having the ability to recognize that I can learn something from everyone. Having this mindset allows me to empathize with those around me and to understand what they value.