Shaler resident helping Eden Christian push toward playoffs
The road to varsity basketball has been winding for Eden Christian forward Aila Bradford.
Bradford attended Eden Christian as a child, then was a home school student for seven years prior to this, her senior year. But the Shaler resident always loved the game of basketball.
Bradford has her eye on college, perhaps studying occupational therapy, but in order to be as successful as possible, she wanted to get re-acclimated to the classroom. With the choice of going to either Shaler or Eden Christian for her senior year, Bradford chose Eden, the school where she started at and will now finish.
Eden gave Bradford a place where she could get the Christian environment she wanted as well as the classroom and basketball experience she needed.
“There were many benefits to being home schooled,” Bradford said. “I was still able to play sports at Shaler, I did a lot with my youth group, coached a team of younger girls and was able to baby sit, too.
“I just like to help people.”
Bradford did many different things with the flexibility of her schedule but said coaching the younger girls really helped her see things from the perspective of a coach.
“I want to be a coach someday,” she said.
Although her future may be on the sidelines, her present is on the court. At 5-foot-10, Bradford has a love for grabbing rebounds and said her abilities to get boards, make timely steals and convert easy layups have caught the eye of several colleges.
“I love playing forward, and rebounding is definitely the best aspect of my game,” Bradford said. “I post up well and get (a lot of) my points on put-backs and layups.”
By choosing Eden Christian over Shaler, Bradford had to establish herself with a new team. She had the experience of playing on a top Class AAAA program, winning a WPIAL championship as a sophomore with the Lady Titans, and then saw her playing time increase as a sophomore and junior.
The team recognized her by naming her one of the captains, and in a place that initially was largely unfamiliar, she has found a home.
“It was difficult going from Quad A to Triple A … I was also the new kid, so I was nervous because all the kids here had been together,” Bradford said. “I was a decent player but didn't want to come in and try to over play. I just wanted to go out and play my hardest.”
Eden Christian has not been known for its success on the basketball court. The team is in a playoff drought of more than 15 seasons, and that is something Bradford wants to change.
“At Shaler, we were worked hard in basketball,” Bradford said. “I have been told I am coachable, and I just work hard to do what I have to do. I push myself no matter what.
“My goal is to help this team get to the playoffs. Our coach has never been there, and to get there as a team would be exciting.”
Bradford said that she strives for a double-double each night out, and she wants to show the colleges who have shown interest in her skills exactly what she can do.
Grove City, Geneva, Marietta, Westminster, York and Eastern University are among the schools courting Bradford.
“I have received a lot of interest, and some of the schools sent people to watch me play,” she said. “I also attended a showcase in Philadelphia and played at the Run for the Roses in Kentucky (to try to earn some recognition).”
With her goals seemingly within reach in every facet, Bradford said Eden has to keep working well together to get that playoff bid.
“I definitely think we can make it,” she said. “It is exciting to make a name for the school and have fun doing it.”
Jerry Clark is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-779-6979 or firstname.lastname@example.org.