Bradley joins KABC Court of Honor

Mar. 15—Bill Bradley has enjoyed his time on a basketball court.

It started as a player at Holy Family and his 21 seasons as Ashland girls coach highlight a stellar roundball resume. He joins another prestigious court today at the girls state tournament in Lexington.

Bradley will be inducted into the Kentucky Association of Basketball Coaches' Court of Honor along with Dupont Manuel's Stacy Pendleton and Leslie County's Larry Sparks.

Bradley said he's still in shock after reading about the recognition in his inbox.

"I heard through email and I was stunned really," Bradley said. "I've known other coaches that have gotten it from our area and they were all great coaches and to put my name in with them is an honor."

Bradley's basketball journey spans over 50 years. He played at Holy Family from 1970-73. He stayed on the Fighting Irish sideline six more seasons, three as an assistant and three more as the bench boss.

He moved on to Boyd County, where he assisted the legendary coach Roger Zornes. He also directed the softball team during his time with the Lions and led the program to their only region title in 1993.

Bradley started coaching at Ashland in 2001 and ended his career with 405 wins. Bradley's first coach profoundly impacted his approach to the game.

"It all started with my high school coach Bill Carroll," Bradley said. "The people who have been around know Bill and his style. His No. 1 rule has always been discipline. You kept your cool and didn't show your emotions. We ran a lot of Princeton stuff and we always had to take care of the ball. That's just how we always played. We can transition things depending on what type of players we had."

The philosophy showed its importance during the postseason where games produce the most pressure.

"Our approach was always business-like," Bradley said. "It was not much emotion or being fiery and things like that. The teams that won the region for us all those years were the same way. We didn't show emotion but we obviously did when the game was over. Even the championship I won at Boyd County. They didn't do a lot of cheering. We just played the game and we played to win."

Ashland collected four straight 16th Region titles from 2012-2015. Ten years ago, the Kittens advanced to the state semifinals in Bowling Green. Bradley felt he had the best team in the tournament but injuries derailed their track to a title.

Former player Haley Sue Foutch said Bradley had the perfect combination of toughness and tenderness.

"Playing for coach Bradley was really an experience," Foutch said. "He always expected you to work hard and held you to a super-high standard. He was tough on us but at the same time, he was really caring. You could go and talk to him about anything. He would simply give you a hug and say, 'You're a good sis,' and send you on your way."

"For him to be able to balance that hard-nosed (approach)," she added, "where I am going to get on you and yell at you but also know that he loved us and we could go to him, it was very admirable."

Foutch is currently in the early stages of her coaching career. Foutch has worked alongside several coaches in the area and just finished her second season on the Russell girls staff. The Red Devils won a region title on Saturday.

"I've been fortunate to experience him as a coach and a lot of other head coaches in this area," Foutch said. "Bradley has definitely instilled some things in me that I still carry on with the girls. He had certain phrases that I now say. They are still ingrained in me."

"We still talk," she continued. "He texted me the other day before the region championship game. He said good luck, coach. When the news came out about his induction, I texted him to say congratulations. He's always going to be one of those special people in my life. I played for him for five years."

Russell coach Mandy Layne and Bradley met 28 times, including five in the region tournament. Layne said Bradley is someone she's always admired.

"People don't realize how hard it is to have success over a long period of time in coaching today," Layne said. "Bill is a great guy and a great friend to me. It's a very deserving honor because he's accomplished so much."

Bradley will be honored today between games in the afternoon session at Rupp Arena.

"I was very fortunate in all these years," Bradley said, "not just at Ashland, but the softball teams at Boyd County and the great teams we had at Holy Family that went to region finals. Of course, the teams we had under Roger Zornes. I've been very lucky."

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