Local social media star and mom to compete in ‘The Amazing Race’

Olivia Walleser
Staff Writer

Emmy Award-winning television series “The Amazing Race” will feature a contestant whom Troy University students may recognize.
Troy native and Vine phenomenon Cole LaBrant will be seen on the CBS series’ 28th season.
LaBrant will be competing on the show with his mother, Sheri LaBrant.
According to CBS.com, “this season, 11 teams embark from Venice Beach, California, on a trek around the world. At every destination, each team must compete in a series of challenges, some mental and some physical, and only when the tasks are completed will they learn of their next location.”
The network described this season’s contestants as “socially savvy racers.” The show will feature social media personalities such as Tyler Oakley, Blair Fowler and Jessica Versteeg.
According to the website, the competitors have a combined following base of 88 million people. LaBrant, a freshman business management major from Troy, contributes over 7.5 million of those followers.
LaBrant’s first experience with fame came in July 2013 when he and his friends Baylor Barnes and John Stephen Grice, who also attend Troy University, entered a dance competition on the popular video-sharing app Vine.
Despite juggling his large social media presence, being featured on a national commercial for Hewlett-Packard Co. and filming his stint on “The Amazing Race,” LaBrant’s friends say he seems committed to maintaining a normal life.
Although LaBrant is unable to speak about his experience until after the show airs, his friends and fellow Troy students said they are enthusiastic for the season to begin.
Andrew Livingston, a freshman communication major from Miami, met LaBrant a few days into the school year.
“He was a really nice guy and I was looking forward to the possibility of hanging out with him and being his friend,” Livingston said.
As for the rest of the university, Livingston said that, despite his fame, “it’s just as if he is a normal student.”
According to Livingston, LaBrant can often be seen around the university, interacting with students just as any normal college student would.
“People should know that he is a college student, following Jesus and having fun while doing it,” Livingston said.
Even students who have never watched the show before say they plan on tuning in to support LaBrant.
“I usually don’t watch reality TV and I don’t own a TV, but I might try to watch a few episodes since I know Cole and I love traveling,” said Vincent Rosec, a senior theater major from Saint-Lo, France.
“I first met Cole at a Sigma Chi party,” Rosec said. “We had a dance-off. He definitely won.”
Sheri LaBrant is the wife of Ken LaBrant, a Spanish professor and director of the Honors Program at Troy University.
“Originally I wasn’t planning on watching because I didn’t know him, but I had his father as a teacher for an honors colloquium class and now I am planning on watching because it seems like a great family,” said Shannon Nisi, a freshman marine biology and risk management insurance double major from Orlando, Florida.
Community members are also aware of LaBrant’s participation on the show.
Wade Douglas McClendon, Jr., a chemist and quality assurance manager for KW Plastics in Troy, coached LaBrant in recreational soccer throughout his teenage years.
“I definitely plan on watching,” McClendon said. “I know his mom and dad, so I know it will be a fun team to watch.”
“Cole is one of those people with a can-do attitude,” McClendon said. “He’s very coachable.
“Tell him what needs to be done and he will do it. That’s the attitude you need on an adventure show like this.”
LaBrant and his friends all plan on watching the show.
“He’s very excited,” Livingston said.
The show will premiere on Friday, Feb. 12, at 7 p.m. on CBS.

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