Cody Bradfisch is in unfamiliar territory. As a sophomore last year, Bradfisch was one of the younger players on Webster University’s conference championship men’s basketball team.
But this year, Bradfisch has had to assume a leadership role as one of the oldest players on a Webster squad that has no seniors on its roster. It’s been a quick turnaround for Bradfisch, and an event that happened last season helped form him into the leader he is today.
On Feb. 9, Webster was down big to Blackburn College in a St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference contest at Grant Gymnasium. The Gorloks’ had defeated Blackburn 94-63 just a month earlier, but the Beavers were threatening to end Webster’s 12-game winning streak.
Enter Bradfisch, who had a breakthrough game against Blackburn. He scored 12 of his career-high 21 points in the second half to shave what was a 17-point Blackburn lead to three points.
With one and a half minutes left and Webster down 71-68, Bradfisch stole an errant pass, got fouled and made both of his free throws to trim the Beavers’ lead to one.
Bradfisch then tied the game at 71 with another free throw with 45 seconds remaining. After Blackburn took the lead, Bradfisch had a chance to tie the game with an easy layup, but he missed it. With seven seconds left, Bradfisch missed a desperation 3-pointer, and the Gorloks win streak was over, as the final score was Blackburn 74, Webster 71.
Even though Bradfisch was the main reason the Gorloks were in the game at all, he took the loss hard and felt compelled to do something about it. In the locker room after the game’s conclusion — in front of his coaches and teammates — Bradfisch said he was sorry.
“I wanted to apologize to them for more or less letting them down — I felt like I let myself down and I let them down,” Bradfisch said. “I just wanted to let them know to have confidence in me. I wasn’t going to give up. I was going to put in whatever it took for us to win the conference and make it to the tournament. I also told coach (Chris) Bunch, don’t give up on me. I’m going to continue to work hard. Have faith in me — I’m going to come through.”
And he did. The game was a turning point in Bradfisch’s basketball career at Webster. He earned more playing time with his effort, and in three of the Gorloks’ final seven games, Bradfisch was the team’s leading scorer. Prior to the Blackburn game, Bradfisch had never led Webster in scoring in a given game during the 2010-2011 season.
“I just wanted to show a sense of accountability and responsibility,” Bradfisch said. “I thought, especially with the great group of guys we had, they deserved to hear that. I’m a big believer in owning up to mistakes, just being honest and trustworthy. At that time, I felt like I needed to be that. I thought it was important, especially the way the game ended and the way I performed down the stretch.”
Bradfisch said his coaches and teammates responded well to his postgame apology. That moment, along with last year’s seniors setting a good example on and off the court, has helped Bradfisch quickly become a team leader this year. Though Bradfisch does admit he still has room to grow.
“I still have a lot to learn about being a leader,” Bradfisch said. “I don’t think I’m ever going to know everything. I think the main thing is to keep working each day and try to learn something new. I have a lot to learn about leadership and rallying the guys together. I definitely think that moment helped. It was a good step, but I still have a lot of work to do.”
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