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Kicking The Door Down

WRITTEN BY Pat Bradley
WRITTEN BY Pat Bradley

This is the third installment in a new series written by former Razorback student-athletes called “Training Ground For Life”. To read previous stories written by James Johnson and Celia Anderson, click here and here.


Razorback Men’s Basketball Student-Athlete (1995-99)
SEC Network Basketball Analyst and Sports Radio Talk Show Host

It was August 22, 1995. I was sitting at restaurant on College Ave in Fayetteville with my family and I told them I wasn’t sure if this was the place for me.  My parents, Rich and MaryAnn, kindly told me that after a 26 hour drive over 2 days from Everett, Mass, there was a zero percent chance I would be going back with them.

They explained how comfortable they felt with everyone they met in the basketball program and athletic department in the brief time they had been there and knew it was the place for me to get out of my comfort zone and experience new things.  I was leaving a great support system for another, one that shared the same values that could help me grow in mind, body and spirit.

Once a Razorback, always a Razorback and the exposure you get as an student-athlete as well as the platform given to the student-athletes by the University will of Arkansas, help to put you in position for numerous opportunities. And they’ll always be looking out for you in the future.  Truth be told, I’m not sure if it was that pep talk or the moment I sank my teeth into those juicy ribs that I was convinced.

Bradley Layup

Fast forward a few (ahem) years later and Arkansas can’t get rid of me now. God led me to the perfect place at the right time and that was the University of Arkansas.

Currently I’m working in Little Rock as co-host of a sports talk station on KABZ-FM 103.7 and as a college basketball analyst for the SEC Network, which AD Jeff Long was instrumental in that whole process. Remember the Once a Razorback always a Razorback thing? Yes, he was looking out for me.  To say these are my dream jobs would be an understatement and for those who know me, they would say the only way I can make a living. But I would not have been interested or prepared for either position if not for the environment created by the U of A which helped me deal with the media and understand how important it was to talk to the media.

I played in a time when there was an “open locker room,” which means once Coach (Nolan) Richardson was done talking to the team after a game, any and all reporters were allowed in the locker room.  So yes, 10 minutes after a big win or loss, at 19 years old in front of 15 or so reporters (maybe more depending on the game), they were all there wanting to know what just happened.  I knew that if I was going to be on TV or quoted in the newspaper I wanted to give the most informative and entertaining answer I could.

Bradley With Paul Eells

Of course I learned from one of the best in Coach Richardson who taught me to seize the moment. I always knew there would come a time when no one cared what I had to say so might as well enjoy it while they did. He also gave us one of many valuable lessons regarding reporters and it might surprise you.  He said, “If you want to speak to the reporters only when you win or play well, then you better not hide when you lose or play bad because you have to talk to them then too,” No running, no hiding and it help me force myself to articulate and most importantly have fun with the whole process, which is why I still enjoy it today and wouldn’t change it for anything.

As an under recruited kid from the east coast, Nolan Richardson gave me a chance that not many did and the U of A provided a platform that I never had.  I tried to make the most of it from the beginning which led to another great lesson from Coach Richardson which was, “Don’t just stand there knocking on the door if you want to get in, kick the darn thing down!”

But for me I had to have help from lots of people to just find the door!  From the athletic training staff who taped my ankles, got me medicine and stitched me up when I was cut, to my tutor who helped me grind through every math class I had every semester, to the academic advisors who made sure I knew how important it was to go to class….on time!  It was all my assistant coaches and secretaries and all members of the support staff, they are truly a second family.  As a matter of fact, Coach Frank Broyles called me in my dorm room on a number of occasions to ask about my grades, he wasn’t particularly happy about a D, I had in Geology mid-semester, I changed that real fast!  I also developed great relationships with student-athletes in other sports as well as coaches in other sports that didn’t hesitate to help in any way.

 

Bradley on SEC Network

The impact of being a Razorback has not only shaped who I am, it has provided me with lifelong friends on and off the court. It has also impacted the lives of my family.  Many of you have met my family and friends on their many trips to Arkansas and showered them with love to the point my parents have looked for property here to retire!

Going to school at the University of Arkansas has become the most important decision I’ve made in my life.  I’ve had many firsts in Arkansas, from baiting a hook, eating okra, to learning a new language (fixin’ and y’all).

I appreciate everyone that’s been a part of me being a Razorback, which is special. I know we have strived to have the best facilities to succeed on the court, to give us the chance to win, best support off the court to keep us grounded and the best support from fans in the stands to give us that edge.  All of that helped me daily and I know everyone will do the same for current and future Hogs.

I encourage the current and future Razorback student-athletes to set your goals high, OVERuse the many resources that are available to you through our university and all Razorbacks. Reach out for advice and help and sometimes don’t just stand there knocking, kick the door down!