In an age when college athletics are ripped apart in the media, it is nice to finally see a story where a team and its players are doing well for a family and their university.
The Bradley men’s basketball team, headed by coach Geno Ford, signed two young boys to the roster. One of the boys, 5-year-old Johnah Sahrs from Dunlap, is in recovery from stage 4 high-risk neuroblastoma. Through the Team IMPACT organization, Johnah, along with his brother Jarret, who has been there by his side every step of the way, were signed as players to the team.
The team took the brothers and their family on a tour of the basketball practice facility and even had their own signing press conference with Ford and the team.
Ford said he is excited for what is to come out of the relationship with the Sahrs family and knows that this means a lot to his team.
“We hope to add some excitement and joy into their lives this basketball season,” Ford said. “Jonah is an incredible daily reminder of how to handle adversity and perseverance. Our staff and players have enjoyed the beginning of our friendship.”
Senior guard Mason Alwan said he understood the importance of what the team was doing and felt a personal connection to the whole situation.
“For me it’s a little more personal,” Alwan said. I have a 4-year-old brother and to see what Johnah is going through puts things into perspective. I know how hard it would be on my family and I to go through something like what the Sahrs are currently going through.”
Sophomore guard Anthony Fields said he understands his responsibility to the team and the community due to his status as an athlete.
“We are like superstars to them, and it’s a great feeling to have them a part of the team,” Fields said. “This means everything to me. I love kids, and seeing the smiles on their faces makes me feel so honored to be apart of the reason. We have a great group of guys this year. The boys are in for a treat.”
This story truly represents what Bradley athletics means to this university and the whole community. The Bradley athletics department’s values of accountability, courage, diligence, integrity and respect are values that are common throughout college athletics, but most times different universities’ never seem to uphold these values like Bradley.
What the basketball team achieved here is extremely respectable, and it makes me proud to call myself a Brave. I am sick and tired of hearing about different college’s scandals. It seems as if every weekend when I turn on my favorite sports channel, some school is being investigated due to breaking NCAA rules.
Yes, the NCAA is very flawed, and, yes, college athletics and the NCAA are not perfect. But now, I can confidently say that Bradley athletics does it right, and when people talk about Bradley athletics, we can talk about our school’s athletes with pride.
It should be exciting watching the two new members of the basketball team run out of the tunnel this season and something that our community and school will be proud of.
I know I will be proud watching my team.