CINCINNATI — The head coach of Robert A. Taft High School's state champion boys' basketball team owns rings from all three such titles won by Cincinnati Public Schools. Still, Coach Demarco Bradley Senior's bigger accomplishment inspired an open letter from a colleague.
"There's so much more to Coach Brad than just okay he coaches basketball and just won state," said Sinita Scott, an English teacher at Taft High School.
Students at the school face significant disadvantages in their off-the-court lives; Nine out of 10 students in the district live in homes earning less than $600 a week.
Scott said she wrote the letter so people know how Bradley touched lives on and off the court.
He has mustard seed faith. There's a bible verse about how the faith of a mustard seed can move a mountain. (Coach Bradley) has faith unlike anybody I've ever encountered in my life. Our boys go through so much and they have so much going on in their lives. Brad always works so hard to give them a place of calm. He would not let anything sway him from his ultimate goal.
If something was going on in their family and he found out about it, (Coach Bradley) would be the first one to help them out. The coaches with the team, they would do things like stay in a hotel before a tournament. They would go out to nice dinners so that they can have a time to relax and refocus before they played big games. He is serious about their academics. He had the kids in my room for study tables. They couldn't wear hats. Don't take out your phone. Don't chit chat. Do your work.
I've seen a correlation between grades steadily improving over the years and how far we get in the championship over the years. So the more serious the boys are about their grades the more dedicated they are. A student who is in my class who is a senior this year, I've seen his work ethic shift over time. So first quarter we had to put in all that extra work so he could get where he needed to be. Second quarter, he was kind of like, eh. Third quarter, he came back strong and actually got an "A" in my class and he was excited. His family was excited. Coach Brad was excited. He didn't say, 'oh well. As long as you're eligible to play.' He didn't say that. (Coach Bradley) said no you need to get to Ms. Scott's class to do this work and do it correctly. In the end I think it's paying off.
He's impacted our staff. He's impacted the community, the alumni, administration, but I would have to say the biggest impact is on the boys.
Bradley said he wants to show kids goals set for them can be accomplished.
"Why not us," Bradley said. "Even though we come from poverty, some of our kids don't have nothing (and we're) trying to find meals I (have) to scrape up money. Guess what? They finally met their goal. A lot of people set goals. Some people give up on their goals. Some people never reach their goals. This was one of our goals. I told them your goals are possible."
Nine of Taft's 11 players are also honor roll students, which Bradley also said ranks among his greatest achievements.