by Perry Hunter | John Bradley is my friend.
It did not start out that way because when I was in high school playing for Henryville, he was the varsity boys basketball coach at Silver Creek.
His job my senior year was to find a way to slow me down as a scorer, and well, he was the coach of the evil empire.
Somehow I was able to get past his past when he became the boys basketball coach at Henryville.
I had graduated a few years before and my coach had stepped down and there were a couple different guys who had coached and it didn’t work out.
Coach Bradley was ready to come in and rebuild a program that the town could be proud of.
I was pretty lost those first few years after high school, not really understanding what I was doing, where I was going and would still attend Henryville open gyms and games when I could.
I will never forget one day I was standing against the wall of the Spurgeon gym (the older, smaller gym) and Coach Bradley came up and asked me how I was doing.
After some small talk about where I was working, what I was doing he then asked a question that would forever change my life.
“Would you be interested in coaching the freshman team?” he asked.
I was 23 years old, but the weight of coaching was something I had zero confidence I could do and he must have seen how I reacted because he told me to take 24 hours and think about it.
From that moment in that gym to today, coaching basketball has taken me around the state of Indiana, it has taken me to other places in this country, it has taken me to five continents (six this summer, headed to Australia), and has allowed me to be to young men what John Bradley was and is to me.
A mentor, and now a friend.
Recently, Coach and Mrs. Bradley’s son, Michael, passed away and I cannot fathom the pain they have endured and still are and I am sure will for the rest of their lives.
But they can rest easier, I hope, knowing that they have made positive contributions to so many young people’s lives as coaches and teachers.
They have given much of their time through the years to help others from students to adults. They have done so willingly and unselfishly.
If it were not for John Bradley walking up to a 23 year old and asking him a simple question, I do not know where I would have ended up.
But because he did, it has been a heckuva ride and all because he took time then and through the years to help me out.
My only hope is that he can understand what he has done and that he and his wife’s lives have not been in vain because of situations that happen to them, but they have had hugely successful lives because of the situations they have created for others.