Beau Bradley leans on service, family and passion to propel championship aspirations

Bradley is one of men’s soccer’s hardest workers on and off the field

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Beau Bradley’s natural competitive spirit doesn’t come from his time on the soccer pitch, but rather his family’s deep-rooted tradition of hard work and athletic dominance.  

Courtesy Virginia Athletics

Virginia men’s soccer, in the middle of a standout season, is full of talented athletes motivated to win. However, junior midfielder Beau Bradley’s competitive spirit comes from a source different from most of his teammates — his family’s deep-rooted tradition of hard work and athletic dominance. The Bradley family name is synonymous with many celebrated American sports figures including professional baseball players, a professional soccer coach and a captain of the United States men’s national soccer team.  

“So, it all really started with my grandparents,” Bradley said. “My grandpa lied about his age in order to serve in Korea. That’s the basis for my family — people who started everything for themselves and worked really hard. My grandpa was also drafted to the MLB and played football in college.”

The work ethic of Bradley’s grandfather influenced the rest of his family tree.

“[My grandpa] had three boys — my dad Jeff, Scott and Bob,” Bradley said. “All of them work in sports in some way and played sports. Bob coached U.Va. soccer under Bruce Arena after playing at Princeton University … Scott played baseball at UNC, played 9 years in the MLB and coaches Princeton baseball. My dad also went to UNC, played baseball for two years and decided to pursue journalism … My cousin Michael [Bradley] turned professional for soccer at 16, too.”  

Beyond his family, Bradley is unique among most of his peers at Virginia. He repeated his senior year at the renowned Taft Academy, which he credits for building up his work ethic and giving him more perspective on his goals.

“I knew early on that I wanted to be an athlete, and I love that I get to have this experience at Virginia where I meet so many great people and compete at the highest level every year,” Bradley said. “But soccer isn’t who I am — it’s just one part of my life and there’s other parts like volunteering and coaching that I cherish too.”

This is the exact mindset that led Bradley to the McIntire School of Commerce. In addition to being a leader on a team that pundits have already pegged as national championship contenders, Beau is competing just as hard off the field.

The first year of McIntire — known for its rigorous Integrated Core curriculum — challenges students’ time management and teamwork abilities.

However, as his professors will say, Bradley didn’t just accept the challenge of attending a prestigious business program — he anticipated it. Assoc. Prof. of Commerce Gary Ballinger noted this quality in Bradley from day one.

“When everyone else was easing into a busy semester in late August, Beau took the time in the first week of classes to plan out his calendar, talk with faculty to understand the implications of travel and practice schedules and make sure that he was participating fully with his group,” Ballinger said. “To do all that and engage in successful charitable and extracurricular work shows how much he contributes to so many communities.”

Bradley has found his groove, balancing McIntire and soccer — perfecting it down to a near science.

“I wake up early,” Bradley said. “I get up well before practice, usually at 5:30 a.m. Between 5:30 and 7:30, I focus and do some work. I eliminated a lot of my distractions in my second year and embraced more minimalism, which has really allowed me to free up time between practices and other commitments to get all my work done and meet with my [McIntire] group when I have to.”

Professor Ballinger has noticed how that diligence has paid off thus far. 

“His success in the classroom and as a student-athlete shows how proactive and conscientious he is — so much advance planning is required to be successful as a student-athlete, and it's particularly challenging in the Comm School with team assignments,” Ballinger said.

Even still, Bradley isn’t satisfied. Outside of his athletic and academic careers, he’s a youth coach and an avid reader — for nothing but pure enjoyment. Outside of Klöckner Stadium and Rouss-Robertson Hall, Bradley is a staple at Shenandoah Joe, other Virginia athletic events or any philanthropic cause he can squeeze into his calendar.

On the pitch, Bradley’s impact comes from the leadership he’s gained from family, school and extracurricular work.

Against Western Michigan Sept. 23, Virginia was in an uneasy position — tied 0-0 going into overtime with a massive underdog. Neither team had conceded a goal in 90 minutes. Virginia Coach George Gelnovatch had exhausted virtually every formation and strategy he was willing to show his competition this early in the season — except, of course, an unlikely secret weapon.

As the team huddles up for its final pep talk before the overtime period, Bradley knew exactly how to light a fire under the team to push for the win that night — Virginia ultimately won on an overtime goal, propelling them to a then-undefeated record.

“It was honestly very simple,” Bradley said. “I knew what the situation was and Coach Gelnovatch had given us the game plan, but I could tell I had a chance to fire everyone up. I told the guys that national championship teams win these games, ‘just good’ teams don’t. The team responded because that’s who we are — we’re driven to win the whole tournament this year and that game was the first step.”

Instead of dousing his competitive fire, Bradley’s many commitments keep it fueled and burning. So when Gelnovatch needed his secret weapon that night, the 5-foot-9 New Jersey native was ready to deliver.

Not a strike or a tackle — but a speech driven with raw passion. 

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