Valley Sports Report
ATHENS — Athens senior Gavin Bradley has known what he’s wanted — on and off the mat — for a long time, and he believes Castleton University presents him with the best of both worlds.

Bradley signed a National Letter-of-Intent to wrestle at Castleton Monday afternoon during a brief ceremony in the high school gymnasium

“It’s a great university. It’s great for my major,” said Bradley. “And, Vermont is the best state for wildlife conservation, and overall environmental conservation.

“(Caslteton) is ranked third overall in job placement, and that was a huge factor for me in deciding where to go,” he noted. “The class sizes are small, and that appealed to me, too.”

“The wrestling program is great,” continued Bradley. “It’s a place I can fit in, and do the things I want to do — on and off the mat.

“Academically, and for wrestling, it fit me great,” he added.

Bradley, a four-time PIAA place-winner — including a state title as a senior and a second-place finish as a junior, built a Division I wrestling resume, and says those dreams aren’t necessarily dead.

“Division I is not out of the question. I can wrestle D-III for a little bit, and then wrestle D-I.

“I’d rather go up than down,” said Bradley. “I’d rather start at D-III and get my grades situated with the small class sizes and having more support … I’d rather do that, than go to a D-I school, not be able to cut it, and go down to D-III.

“I’d much rather do it this way,” added Bradley. “It’s also possible I’m comfortable there and stay all four years.”

Gavin’s uncle, Shawn Bradley, who doubles as the Athens varsity wrestling coach, believes Castleton is the right choice.

“The key for him is to be happy at school. He has to be able to succeed at school, and get the help he needs there, and the support.

“I think with that group of men up there at Castleton … I went to a couple of visits with (Gavin), and it was different than any other college I’ve been at, and I’ve been to quite a few,” said Shawn Bradley. “I was impressed.

“I think it’s a great school, and it fits him,” he added. “It’s great for Gavin.”

Shawn Bradley has no doubt Gavin Bradley will be successful at the next level.

“Gavin has demonstrated he can be successful at a very high level,” he said. “We’re lucky here, we have kids who work, and Gavin is a worker.

“Gavin came to me a long time ago and said, ‘I want to be good,’ and I told him, ‘you have to work.’

“There are very few kids, if any, who have ever walked into our room and outworked that boy,” noted Shawn Bradley. “He has goals at the next level, and in order to get there, he’s going to have to work.

“I don’t know if his coaches know what they have coming,” laughed Shawn Bradley. “When he calls them at 7 o’clock on a Sunday, and asks, ‘hey, can we wrestle today?, we’ll see what they say about that.”

Both Bradleys believe the hard work will continue for Gavin.

“Every day is me trying to get better,” said Gavin. “I’m always trying to improve, no matter what. Every little thing I do is just trying to get better, and better, and better.

“I’ve been wrestling every single day, and I’ve been working out every single day,” he added. “I just keep looking to improve.”

“He has to work to get bigger, and put on some size,” said Shawn Bradley. “He’s already been working on that, and lifting hard since the Monday after States. He’s not going to get any taller, so he needs to work on his size.”

Gavin Bradley, who currently hosts “Wild Animal Podcast” on Spotify,  will major in Wildlife and Forestry Conservation.

“I’ve always known what I’ve wanted to do, and like wrestling, I’ll just keep working at it,” said Gavin Bradley.

“Starting off, I’d like to work for a government agency like the EPA or a wildlife sanctuary to get my resume built up and build some connections,” he added. “Then maybe, be a college professor, or high school teacher. We’ll see.”


IN PHOTO 1: Athens senior Gavin Bradley. IN PHOTO 2: From left: Ron and Priscilla Bradley (grandparents), Gavin Bradley, Kyle Bradley (father), and Shawn Bradley (uncle, and Athens wrestling coach.) IN PHOTO 3: Seated, from left: Ron and Priscilla Bradley (grandparents), Gavin Bradley, Kyle Bradley (father), and Shawn Bradley (uncle, and Athens wrestling coach.) Standing, from left: Athens assistant wrestling coaches Scott Setzer, David White, and Jay White. … PHOTOS BY TIM BIRNEY.