Armed Athletics was founded in January of 2017 as the result of a dream that began nearly 12 years before to positively influence young men and women through sports. It is the vision of Armed Athletics to equip young athletes with the necessary tools to pursue their dreams on and off the playing field with their entire mind, body and soul. We aspire for our athletes to leave Armed Athletics not only having developed the traits to be successful on their respective field, but also the traits that will make them successful in every area of their life. We also have a heart for coaches at all levels and offer services to enhance their knowledge in their sport and in what it takes to create a culture that promotes healthy growth.

Trey Elder
President & Founder
As a young teenager, Trey developed an affinity for sports and a dream of being a coach as a result of his relationship with his high school coach.  The son of a pastor and a high school volleyball coach, Trey developed his philosophy as a coach from the leadership in his home coupled with the men that he was fortunate to be influenced by through athletics.  He was a quarterback on two state championship teams at Byrnes High School and three national championship teams at Appalachian State University.  Trey spent 5 seasons coaching wide receivers at the NCAA Division 1 level and is currently a head high school coach.  It is his dream to use athletics as the vehicle for young men and women to realize the capacity they have inside to go after the things that they want most in their hearts.
Nathan Craig
Director of Operations
Nathan is the father of two young children, math teacher, and has been a high school coach for 7 years. Nathan has always had a passion for positively influencing young men and women through athletics.  Growing up, Nathan established a love for athletics and the relationships formed between a group of people pursuing the same goal.  As an assistant football coach and head golf coach at the high school level, Nathan has seen first hand the positive and lasting impact athletics can have on young athletes.
Dan O’Connell
Director of Athletic Performance

Dan is a proud family man. He and his wife Kayla were married in 2015. They reside in Spartanburg, SC with their one year old son, Madden. From being surrounded by athletes and coaches since he was born, Dan has developed a passion and an understanding of working with athletes. The Rhode Island native won 3 State titles as a player, but had no scholarship offers. He enrolled in Milford Academy before attending the University of Rhode Island. Dan perfected the habit of hard work during his time at Milford as he became a Division I caliber linebacker through concentrated diet and exercise. In 2011, the 4-year letter winner graduated from the University of Rhode Island with a BS in Kinesiology. Dan believes playing and training at a high level requires a certain type of mentality. Since he became a strength coach in 2012 he has worked to foster an environment that instills this mentality every single day.

Blake Elder
Director of Personal and Cultural Development

Born and raised in upstate SC – Blake has a passion for creating an environment where people can become more, experience victory, and produce something good. The journey of his playing career is an inspiring story of overcoming adversity and overwhelming odds. He had major kidney surgery to correct a birth defect in high school, and did not start on his high school team. He was an unrecruited walk-on at Appalachian State, became a 2-year starter and scholarship player, and finished his final season as a captain on the team. 

Blake has experienced healthy environments in athletics from all facets; as a player, coach, and administrator. He played on 3 SC State Championship teams, 2 NCAA FCS National Championship teams, the Appalachian State team that upset Michigan, and was a part of 6 SOCON championship teams combined as a player and coach. Blake has worked as a Strength & Conditioning coach, a position coach, and in NCAA compliance as a professional.  He understands the scope of the job – the high intensity pace, great demand on time and resources, pressure of winning, and the responsibility to lead. 

Athletics create a context for us to build young men and women up as they mature in life. There is great purpose in coaching and training athletes. However, it must be intentional rather than accidental. Blake has spent the major part of the last 10 years working with student-athletes, teams, and coaching staffs on and off the field on the Middle School, High School, and Collegiate levels. He has a knack for designing a space and material that enhances the vision of a coach, team, organization, or individual player. Blake graduated from Appalachian State University in 2010 with a degree in Organizational/Public Communication with a focus in Interpersonal Communication and currently resides in Spartanburg, SC.