Basketball, Football, Lacrosse
Favorite athlete: Klay Thompson
Favorite team: Philadelphia Eagles
Favorite memory competing in sports: Just playing with my close friends all the way from intramural in elementary school to varsity in high school.
Most embarrassing/funniest thing that has happened while competing in sports: During senior night for football, I was injured so I just had my jersey and sweatpants on, and right before I went up to the field, water was spilled on my gray sweatpants. A pretty big spot too, so it looked like I peed my pants. Now my picture from senior night has a huge wet spot on my pants, and it was quite embarrassing.
Music on your mobile device: Mostly hip hop but I do like some older music-- some types of rock
Future plans: Go to college and receive a degree in Finance and maybe minor in mechanical engineering
Words to live by: "Adversity introduces a man to himself"
One goal before turning 30: I want to start a startup company
One thing people don’t know about you: I am named after a hockey player, Basil McRae, but my parents spelled it BAZEL so people would not call me basil.
By Craig Ostroff
Last summer, Bazel Brady decided he wanted to try something new in his final year at Upper Dublin High School.
After much encouragement from friends on the team for several years, Brady finally decided he wanted to play football for the Flying Cardinals.
Despite having never played organized football at any level.
For a team that was the defending SOL American Conference champion, PIAA Class 5A champion, and PIAA State Final Four participant.
Not exactly a team that was hurting for walk-ons. Especially walk-ons who would need to learn every aspect of the game.
“Mike Slivka wanted me to play all through high school,” Brady said of the Cardinals’ senior quarterback. “I was kind of skeptical of it, and my mom was definitely skeptical, but Mike kept talking it up, my other friends on the team kept talking it up. I thought maybe I’d give it a try senior year.”
Brady was not expecting to be handed anything. He knew he’d have to prove himself if he wanted to earn even a single snap of game action.
He set about earning his spot from day one.
“Sure, I was a little leery early on, but I knew Bazel was a heck of an athlete and if anyone could handle it, he’d be one of the few,” said Cardinals’ football coach Bret Stover. “But I needed to see it, I needed to see that he was dedicated to making the team and willing to put in the work, and I’ve got to tell you, he worked the hardest of everybody this offseason to learn the offense.
“He put in the time. During team camp, he’s in the room going over routs with Slivka, with Brian McCarry. They’re good friends and it was an easy thing for the three of them to work together on it.”
While Brady may have faced an uphill battle, one thing that was never in doubt was his toughness.
“The physical part of football was natural for him,” Stover said. “When you first start playing football, you have that initial fear factor of taking a hit. I never got that feeling from him, which is usually not the case with a first-year kid.”
Brady quickly adapted and became a valuable player on both sides of the ball. And when a plague of injuries descended on the Cardinals, Brady found himself moved around the field wherever he was needed. Lining up as a wideout on offense, Brady was originally slated to play outside linebacker on defense, but also found himself in the defensive backfield when he was needed there. He also took on punting duties.
“We weren’t sure where we were going to use Bazel at first, or if we were just going to limit him to offense, or just to defense,” Stover said. “We threw that out the window early, because he proved he could handle it. By week 3 or 4, he had moved to cornerback, and he’s out there covering the best man on the other team. Micah Bootman was hurt, we needed someone to step in. Was it pretty? No, it was Bazel being an athlete and getting the job done any way he could.”
“Once I was on the field, it felt natural after I knew the routes,” Brady said.
And he quickly fell in love with the game.
“I can’t really explain it, but for some reason, there’s something different about football,” he said. “The feeling I got from football is a different feeling than anything I’d ever felt before. The team bond was different. I don’t know if it was the kids on the team or just the team atmosphere of football itself.
“The one thing I regret about high school is not playing earlier, I just loved it so much.”
It’s a sentiment his coached wholeheartedly shares.
“I would have loved to have him for four years,” Stover said. “It unfortunate that his ceiling will never be reached in football. He has so much upside. Had he played four years, he’d probably be playing on Saturdays next year.”
Unfortunately, Brady’s highly successful experiment on the gridiron came to a sudden halt in the Cardinals’ sixth game of the season. In a scramble for a fumble against Quakertown, an opposing player fell on Brady’s right hand.
His hand swollen and in pain, Brady still tried to get back into the game but was denied by the Cardinals’ coaching and medical staff, who knew something was wrong.
“I wanted to go right back in,” Brady said. “They said, ‘no, we’re afraid it’s broken.’”
It was. Three broken metacarpals, to be exact, with the middle one displaced. He would require surgery that would result in screws, plates, and a pin.
Despite only having played six games his senior year (as well as his entire high school career), Brady earned American Conference Honorable Mention status as a wideout. And he proved to his football coaches and teammates, as well as to fans and opposing teams, something that his basketball coach has known for several years … that there aren’t many athletes out there like Bazel Brady.
“We’re in our third year as coaching staff, when we got here, Bazel was in his sophomore year,” said Upper Dublin boys’ basketball coach Chris Monahan. “His improvement from his sophomore year to where he is today has just been phenomenal. It’s a testament to his hard work, to his buying into the things we’re teaching. Last year, he got our Most Improved Award and played a ton of minutes as a junior.
“You hear a lot about the guy who’s the glue who holds the team together. You could say that about Bazel this year, but the truth is, he’s so much more than that to us. He’s our second leading scorer and rebounder, he handles the ball against pressure, he does everything for us—he can shoot, dribble, he rebounds, takes charges … he’s our all-everything guy.”
His improvement stems from an unparalleled work ethic and desire to improve, but also a self-awareness and ability to assess his strengths and weaknesses.
“After my sophomore year, I wanted to become an all-around better player, especially knowing we’d have some seniors graduating so I’d have more minutes in my junior year,” Brady said. “One thing I can think of from my sophomore year was that I shot poorly from the 3-point line. My junior year, I improved on that, but I also think I was a better all-around player my junior year.
“I just try to do everything I can as well as I can. I try not to focus on one thing, I want my game to be all-around, and I think I did that this season.”
But Brady, who was able to return from his hand injury after missing just two preseason basketball scrimmages, would be counted on for more than just his on-court contributions. Having lost several key players—among them Slivka, who tore his ACL during football season—from the previous season’s 14-win team that made the District playoffs, Brady was named a captain of a team loaded with juniors and underclassmen who hadn’t logged a ton of varsity minutes. Providing strong leadership would be a crucial component of the senior class.
Brady was willing and able to step up and do his part.
“It meant a lot to be named a captain,” he said. “Last year, I tried to be as much of a leader as I could as a junior. being named captain this year meant a lot, try to be the best I could. I try to be the lead-by-example guy. That’s more my personality, I’m not really that guy who hypes everyone up. I wish I was, but it’s just not me. Mike Slivka is that guy who hypes you up, I try to be the guy they can look to and I can lead by example.”
According to Monahan, there is no better example for the younger players than Brady.
“Younger guys don’t necessarily know what to look for in terms of what’s necessary to practice and play at this level,” Monahan said. “Whether it’s me or one of the assistant coaches, you’ll hear in practices tell the guys, ‘Look at what Bazel’s doing - look at how he took a charge, how he’s going left, how hard he’s practicing.’ We do use him as measuring stick for other guys, he knows what the expectations are, and he’s the kid that rises to those expectations the most consistently.”
Brady also works on aspects of his game that may go unnoticed by many. While he possesses the ability to play anywhere on the court in any situation, he’s also intelligent on the court and, according to Monahan, can go to his weak side as good as anyone in the conference.
Monahan points to one particular play that might have escaped the casual fan, but impressed Monahan to no end.
“Bazel goes left probably better as a non-left-handed player than any kid in the conference,” Monahan said. “The first time we played Wissahickon this season, there was this play at the end of the third quarter, Bazel has the ball at midcourt, he gets a defender blocking his way, he doesn’t have a clear shot, and he just heaves it with his left hand from midcourt. It looked natural.”
While one might assume Brady worked on his left-handed shooting while his right hand was injured, this is one particular ability that predates the injury by many a year.
“I’m actually almost ambidextrous,” he said. “I throw a baseball left-handed and a football right-handed. It’s just naturally how I am, so taking a shot left handed was just natural. I actually favor shooting with my left hand sometimes, I think it makes me more unpredictable.
“I do remember that play. I think it was just how I was being guarded, it just made sense to take the shot with my left hand. I didn’t have to think about it, I just shot with my left hand and you hope for the best. It was from half-court. It hit the backboard. It didn’t go in … but it wasn’t far off.”
Brady also played a year of lacrosse at Upper Dublin, but he does not plan on playing it in the spring. So when the final buzzer sounded on the Cardinals’ 50-46 win over Springfield Twp on Feb. 6, it marked the end of the Brady’s high school athletic career.
He’s still keeping plenty busy with his classwork. Brady is taking numerous AP and Honors level courses as a senior and is a member of the school’s Investments Club. He’s still narrowing down his list of possible colleges, and he is leaning toward pursuing a degree in finance with a possible minor in engineering. And if an opportunity to get involved with a team sport at a club level, odds are Brady will jump at the chance to continue playing.
He will leave behind the foundation for future successes at Upper Dublin. While his senior season was not ideal in terms of wins and losses—the Cardinals’ football team finished 3-3 in the American Conference, 5-5 overall, and fell in the first round of the District One Tournament and the boys’ basketball team finished in the bottom half of the American Conference standings at 4-10 (10-12 overall)—Brady knows that a major part of his role as a senior and a leader this year has been to leave a lasting mark on the younger players, to instill his work ethic in the younger kids in order to ensure a bright future.
“This was not how I expected my senior year to go,” Brady said. “We lost a lot of key guys to injury in football, and some of them play basketball as well. We persevered, we had a lot of adversity, and a lot of the younger guys had to step up. I’m proud of what we did with what we had. And I hope I helped push the younger guys to be better, to go farther next year.
“I just went out every day and tried to do everything I could for the team. I try to do everything well, and I tried to build the younger kids up so that they can lead themselves next year. The seniors, we did what we had to do, did what we could do, and I feel like if the teams are successful in the next few years, hopefully I had an impact in that. I would be satisfied with that.”
As far as his coaches are concerned, Brady leaves a unique and all-encompassing legacy … not to mention a pair of cleats that will be difficult to fill.
“You can’t undersell his production, the things he does for us on the court,” Monahan said. “But more than that, we’re losing a leader where it’s hard to ignore him working as hard as he does every day and then justify yourself taking a rep off here or there. They see how hard he works and they want to match that intensity and consistency. Bazel is a kid who really embodies everything we stand for on the court and off.”
“He’s leaving a legacy that you can come out and learn the game and be a major part of the team in just one year,” Stover said. “I’m really going to miss his sense of humor. Football is a grind, and he’s a really good piece to have in the huddle and in practice, he’s got a great perspective.
“He’s one of the most coachable kids I’ve had. When you correct something with him, he works on it and he fixes it. He knows he did it wrong before you could get it out of your mouth, and he’s already at work on getting better. I’ll take 11 or 22 of him on the field any day.”
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