From Valor, to Taylor University, to Ireland, her success on the court has allowed her to impact lives across the globe through the game of basketball.
Kendall Bradbury's Legacy of Excellence
Written by Blake Froistad
There are certain athletes whose performance define a program for years to come. Those whose accomplishments during their playing years transcend generations and set a high level of excellence for others to strive for. They help carry on a winning tradition that changes the trajectory of a program, years after they are gone. Class of 2015 graduate Kendall Bradbury is one of those people. Why? You might ask. Please excuse the run-on sentence while we review her achievements at Valor: an All-Conference player (2013-2015), All-State Player (2013-2015), a Colorado 4A Player of the Year award winner (2015), the all-time leading scorer in Valor history, and to close it all out, she helped lead her team to the first ever Valor Women's Basketball State Championship in 2015.
Let's look beyond the achievements for a minute. I think what separates the good from the great, is sustained success. I'm talking about the athletes who rise through the ranks, and stay there. But you can't have sustained success without overcoming and adapting to adversity. Sports aren't played in a vacuum, injuries happen, coaching changes happen, slumps happen, and behind her achievements, Kendall had to learn to adapt in the middle of all the success. Going into her senior year, Valor had a coaching change, and appointed Coach Jessika Caldwell. Kendall didn't miss a beat, and neither did our new coach, they elevated the program together to win a championship. Little did Kendall know, this small trial would serve her well in the coming years as she moved on to the next level, and had to adapt there as well.
Late in her senior year, Kendall was looking for a place to land at the next level. "I had to restart my recruiting a bit my senior year." But God would have it that Taylor University in Upland, Indiana took an interest in Kendall. God would also have it that other Valor Alums that went on before her, Cameron Gray and Stanley Gilbert, would show her the ropes at Taylor and make sure she got adapted to small town Indiana. Leaving all those high school achievements behind her, Kendall showed up to Taylor with a simple and humble mindset that would serve her well: "I just wanted to help the team win." God had so much in store for her.
Kendall got right to work, and started her next chapter where her last one ended, posting astronomical scoring numbers and making a big splash in the Upland, Indiana community. But beyond the numbers and accolades, she had to overcome adversity again. This time to the tune of 3 coaching changes. By the time Taylor appointed a 3rd coach during Kendall's tenure, she began to have doubts about continuing her basketball career. Before her junior year, the newly appointed coach approached Kendall and reignited her love for the game. "I loved basketball again, and I loved my team again." With a full head of steam going into her junior season, Kendall once again began to define the program and leave a legacy.
"I got back to seeing everyday as a gift, whether I was in the classroom or on the court, I just wanted to be a light, and give the rest to God." She did that, and God added so much more to her efforts. With a renewed mind and heart for her team and the game, Kendall finished her Junior and Senior year with an abundance of on the court success. As a team, Taylor finished 6th in the nation by the end of her senior season. When I say she had an "abundance of success" let me spell that out for you, make sure you're sitting down:
- 9th Leading Scorer in NAIA History (2,850 Points)
- 21 Time Conference Player of the Week
- 4 Time All-Crossroads League Team
- CoSIDA Google Cloud Academic All-American (2019)
- WBCA NAIA All-American
- 4 Time NAIA All American
- Led NAIA in scoring 2018-2019
- All time leading scorer in Taylor University AND Crossroads League History
- Crossroads League Player of the Year (2019)
- Team Captain (2019)
- Taylor University Female Athlete of the Year (2018 AND 2019)
- Fastest Player to 2,000 Points in Taylor History (2018)
- Fastest Player to 1,000 Points in Taylor History (2017)
- Single Season Scoring Record (810) (2018)
- Single Game Scoring Record (41 Points) (2018)
- 2 Time NAIA Player of the Week (2018, 2019)
Remember that talk about greatness being rooted in sustained success? Kendall not only sustained the success she had in high school, she went beyond that and sustained it at a higher level. She adapted to coaching changes, renewed her heart for the game, and she credits pursuing excellence, not perfection, as a major key to that. "It wasn't about being a perfectionist, I'm human, it's about pursuing excellence because when you try to be perfect, you'll never achieve that and it'll drag you down. Only God is perfect."
After graduating from Taylor in 2019, Kendall agreed to play with a professional team in Ireland, the Limerick Celtics. Upon signing with Limerick, this marked a major milestone, and deep seeded dream to play professionally. It was a dream come true, but she didn't relish it for long and got right to work, just had she had done at Valor and Taylor. Kendall was named Basketball Ireland Division One All-Star in 2020. While in Ireland, she also got the chance to give back and worked with local youth teams, coaching kids who had high hopes of playing in the U.S. someday. But more adversity came her way, this time in the form of a global pandemic. With the onslaught of Covid-19, she was forced to come back home to Colorado before the border closed and to avoid being stuck in Ireland indefinitely. "At first I felt that Covid had robbed me of that professional experience, but I got to come back and be with my family who I hadn't been with for quite sometime." Upon her return, she has also pursued an opportunity to coach at Castleview High School.
So what could possibly be next for someone who has achieved so much? Kendall accepted an opportunity with News Release Basketball, a faith based organization that brings the good news of Jesus Christ to various countries in Europe through the game of basketball. She'll traveled to Europe in the summer of 2022 to not only play and teach basketball, but to teach people about the most important thing of all: Salvation through Jesus Christ. She was also coached by her former high school coach, Jessika Caldwell. But the Lord would have it, that Kendall would get another opportunity at the professional level. This fall, she signed with a professional team in The Netherlands and is currently back living out her dream and getting those playing years back that she lost during the pandemic. A word of advice from Kendall: "Don't sweat the small stuff. Don't take yourself too seriously and give yourself some grace. You'll make mistakes and learn from them."