One way to bring people together and cultivate a strong sense of community is through sports. Alexandria Bradley would absolutely agree with this sentiment. As the Head Coach of Girls Volleyball at West Side Leadership Academy in Gary, Bradley has been heavily involved in sports for decades.
“As a coach, nothing is more satisfying than teaching a player something they didn’t know and, over time, seeing them use their developed skills and strengths out on the court,” Bradley said.
Bradley was a volleyball player herself when she attended Roosevelt High School in the 1980s. She said her coach was a role model who inspired the players to do their best and strengthen their talents. After coming back home from college, she reconnected with the coach and eventually accepted a position as an Assistant Volleyball Coach in 1993.
“He taught me so much both as a coach and as a boss,” Bradley said. “A lot of life lessons I learned from him I use now in my coaching position.”
Bradley describes her coaching style as being very encouraging. She wants her players to work together as a group to accomplish their goals and hone their abilities, all while enjoying themselves and making friends in the process.
“I try to motivate the girls to go out and give it their all on the court,” Bradley said. “The team and their passion to play motivate me to get up every morning and make sure they are succeeding.”
Bradley also commented that her goal in the spring is to reach out to nearby Gary elementary and middle schools to start doing volleyball camps.
“As a coach, the most valuable lesson I have learned is to have patience,” Bradley said. “It takes a lot of time and effort to develop a player’s mindset and abilities, and even more to have all of these players of different skill levels working cohesively with each other.”
For the past five years, Bradley has also been the organizer for the West Side Breast Cancer Volleyball Tournament at Gary West Side. She was inspired by her grandmother and aunt, who were both diagnosed with cancer. Part of the entry fees go to breast cancer survivors in the community.
“The purpose of the event is to show that the community cares about those who have been affected by breast cancer,” Bradley said. “The takeaway of this fundraiser for participants is to have the genuine motivation to love and give back to your community. It really feels great to be a part of something so important.”