SPRINGFIELD (WCIA) — This was going to be Jesiah Bradshaw’s year, the senior season where he helped lead Sacred Heart-Griffin on another deep playoff run. And he is leading, just not on the field.
“Being here and supporting, even though I can’t play with them, I think it gives them a lot of motivation,” Bradshaw said.
The 5-foot-11 linebacker started almost every game for the Cyclones as a sophomore.in 2019, playing with a weird feeling in his right knee. What he didn’t know at the time was he was suiting up with a torn ACL and meniscus.
“You could never tell by his play,” Sacred Heart-Griffin head coach Ken Leonard said. “He could cut, he was fast, he’d run sideline to sideline.”
“I wouldn’t say it came as a surprise, because I knew something was wrong with it,” Bradshaw said about the diagnosis. “It was kind of devastating to hear how bad it was, especially because I could play with it just fine.”
“I know a Division 1 player and he had the speed, he had the size as a linebacker,” added Leonard. “He was a special athlete.”
Bradshaw had surgery in March 2022 to repair his knee but had to have four follow-up operations since. That includes another ACL surgery right before the spring season, ending his high school football career.
“It did take me a little while to accept that and it was hard to talk about it at first,” Bradshaw said. “It was hard.”
Even though the senior has been sidelined since his first surgery, he’s still attended every football and practice game since, supporting his teammates every chance he gets. And that will continue in the Leonard Bowl when SHG travels to Rochester in the Friday Football Fever Spotlight Game of the Week.
“I knew I wasn’t going to be able to play on the field with them, but I knew I was still part of the family,” Bradshaw said. “They’re still all my brothers and I still wanted to stick around and support.”
“That shows you the character he has,” said Leonard. “All the summer workouts at 5:45 in the morning, he’s out there helping us as coaches and helping the players.”
Bradshaw’s rehab continues. The former three-sport athlete hopes to make a return to competition on the mat and make a run at the state wrestling tournament in February. he finished 10th in the state as a freshman.