Hailing from the Peace Region, GPRC alumnus Bill Bradley is the latest addition to the GPRC Wolves women’s basketball wolf-pack. Joining the roster in June 2019, Bradley assumes the role of Head Coach with over 12 years of coaching experience, including a role as assistant coach with the MacEwan University Griffins for the last five years.
We caught up with Bradley to get his thoughts on coming back to GPRC.
What excites you about being the new Women’s Basketball Coach for the GPRC Wolves?
Really, it’s an opportunity to test myself. I’ve been a head coach at younger age groups and I’ve been an assistant coach at high levels but really I’m excited to test my limits, to test my knowledge, and to see if I can make this program as successful as I know it can be.
What made you decide to be a coach?
About eight years ago, I decided to really pursue coaching fulltime. I was an electrician working in the oil patch and I worked my way up to middle management at a multi-national corporation, all while coaching at my former high school [the Hillside Cougars] in Valleyview.
I was looking for some professional development, so I travelled to a National Coaching Certificate Program (NCCP) course in Calgary. [GPRC instructor emeritus and CCAA past President] Leigh Goldie was doing the facilitator evaluation. We got to talking after discovering we were both from the Peace Region and I remember I just started talking about how much I really loved coaching and how I wanted to do more. Leigh put in my head early, “You’re never too old to go back to school.” He really laid a foundation for me to think, “Oh! I think I could do this.”
It was six months later that I put in my notice, left work and enrolled in GPRC to pursue my Bachelor of Kinesiology focusing on Coaching Studies.
I don’t know when the love for coaching really started, but I do remember that ‘aha moment’ of realizing that I could turn something that I loved into a career, and it was meeting Leigh Goldie.
What are the highlights of your career path that brought you to GPRC?
Sometimes it’s as small as seeing an athlete take a skill that you’ve worked hours with them on and having them use it in a game—seeing them have the confidence and growth of being able to take something new and transition it into the sport, which is chaotic and random. That is an incredible feeling.
Another highlight would be when I started a book club at MacEwan University for our athletes during the offseason when things are distant and busy. That book club was a major step for me, not just in learning the tactics but in learning the relationship side of coaching and how to connect with athletes.
You attended GPRC in 2014. What’s it like being back?
It’s great to have all these memories coming back. Even just coming in, I was like, “Okay, I know where this room is, I’ve been here before.”
It is beautiful to see the growth in my time away. I’ve come back to places where things have been left to fall apart or decay but that isn’t the case here.
The beautiful bones are still here, but GPRC is putting on muscle and I love that. It shows a growth mentality and wanting to be better, wanting to progress, and that really matches my values.
What do you want GPRC athletes to know about you?
The thing they need to know is that we’ve got work ahead, but we’re a team and the quicker we get on the same page and understand what our goal is and how we’re going to accomplish it together, the better.
What’s one thing you think every coach should know?
Coaching isn’t just tactics. It’s not just wearing your suit on the sidelines; it’s guiding young athletes, it’s holding young people in sport and creating a love of physical activity. It’s really teaching, leading and being a role model for young people – it’s just we do it on the court instead of in the classroom. Coaching is often looked at like a Disney movie but it’s much more than that.
How would your athletes describe your coaching style?
Something I’ve heard in evaluations is “selfless,” which makes me feel good because it means they recognize the hours I put in, the above and beyond I’ll go. They recognize that I truly, genuinely care about them and their growth.
What do you do when you aren’t working?
Being from the Peace Country, I spend a lot of time outdoors. I would say kayaking in the summer—I’ve paddled the entire Little Smoky River solo—and in the winter I do a lot of painting. I grew up as an artist, and as a young child my first love was drawing and painting, and so finding those times where I have a creative outlet means a lot to me.
Final thoughts on the opportunity of a fresh season ahead?
The opportunity ahead is not just my own. It’s a great opportunity for me to lay down the foundation of what I want the program to grow into, but the season ahead is also a big opportunity for the players. We’re a young roster and I think players should be remembering that opportunity is what you make of it. It’s hard work, it’s preparation and it’s understanding what is required of you in the moment. Opportunity isn’t handed to you but it can be provided. Showing me that I can trust you in practice will show me you deserve a shot. I want my athletes to be thinking “I deserve it, I’ve earned it, and I’m going to make the most of it.” I’ll do everything in my power to prepare them, but at the end of the day, it’s on them to step up and show me that they can do it.
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