The Bradley women’s basketball team is full of young talent, which is evident during some of their games. Although sometimes the talent is emphasized, at other times, the team looks more young than talented. One of the few constants this season has come from the team’s lone senior: Michelle Young.
As a complete player who anchors the defensive end for the Braves, Young offers dynamic offensive prowess. Women’s head coach Michael Brooks said he believes she has the biggest impact on the defensive end on the court, where she is described as the “defensive catalyst.”
“As a freshman, she went through her struggles,” Brooks said. “She really wasn’t a major player. Once I took over the program, I really put an emphasis on her changing our defensive culture.”
Last season, Young became the fifth player in Bradley history to score more than 400 points and total 55 steals in a season. She has also amassed more than 1,000 points in her career at Bradley, which is an impressive feat considering she only averaged 2.0 points per game as a freshman.
“My offensive game has grown a little bit since my freshman year,” Young said. “I’ve been able to develop some kind of jump shot and three-point shot, but I’ve also become more of a communicator and stepping up in that sense.”
Brooks acknowledged Young’s improved offensive game, even expressing his desire for her to shoot a little more from beyond the arc.
Her biggest impact on the team hasn’t come on the court but off of it.
“I’ve just wanted to be a mentor for these girls,” Young said. “It’s a very young team, and they have a lot going for them, and it was tough at the beginning of the year because freshmen get frustrated. There’s such a huge learning curve. Being able to hand that confidence down to the freshmen has been big for me.”
Her excellence in the classroom has also aided her leadership abilities. Brooks said that Young, an elementary education major, is “consistently the hardest worker in the classroom.” Young said that the experience of being a teacher on the court has set the stage for her future.
“[Being the only senior] is difficult at times,” Young said. “But it’s a position that I like to be in. I’m going to be an elementary school teacher someday, so this kind of prepares me to be a role model and have people look up to you.”
Young said it can be a burden being the only senior on the team and she sometimes has her bad days, but she has to stay positive for the rest of the team.
“I know, as a senior, if I have a rough day or if I have no energy, it does kind of flow through the freshmen and [we do] not have a good practice,” Young said. “It’s tough sometimes when I’m having those days, but it’s more important to be there for someone else.”
Young said the favorite part of her Bradley career has been the relationships she has built with her team.
“Even if you don’t get the wins, that’s eventually not going to matter,” Young said. “What you did with these girls… Is what’s really important.”