Basketball forward poses with Pep Cooke, a major contributor to the BU Building Leadership And Supporting Teams (B.L.A.S.T.) program.
NCAA program is a blast for athletes
Today’s college athletes face challenges on and off the playing field, including being in the national spotlight. To help them prepare for life after college, in 1994 the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) developed a life skills program model to provide personal development for each student-athlete based on his or her individual needs. The focus of the program is holistic, addressing the needs of the whole person athletically, academically, personally, and emotionally.
The Bradley Athletics Life Skills program, BU B.L.A.S.T. – Building Leadership And Supporting Teams, was developed in 1996 with that focus in mind. Student-athletes have access to academic advisement, tutoring, study tables, nutrition education, drug and alcohol education, and career development workshops.
They have opportunities to make meaningful contributions to their communities and learn the value of service to others by doing volunteer work with the American Red Cross, Special Olympics of Illinois, and the Pediatric Cancer Association. They can also read to children at Franklin Edison School in Peoria as part of the Just Read Program, a collaborative effort among Valley member schools, the Missouri Valley Conference, and State Farm, the corporate sponsor.
“The BU B.L.A.S.T. program is designed to help our student-athletes develop life skills but also to enhance the overall quality of their experience while at Bradley. Our hope is that they will continue to make a difference in their respective communities after graduation, and also stay connected with Bradley,” said Virnette House-Browning, senior associate athletic director.
While the NCAA offers some financial support for the program, Bradley’s needs include underwriting for the annual academic honors luncheon, senior social, sport consultants on nutrition, and speakers on drug and alcohol education. Private donors, such as Rev. Dr. Joanne “Pep” Cooke, have offered support. “For the past three years, Pep has been a major contributor to the BU B.L.A.S.T. program and has provided funds for a student intern to help administer the program,” said Tom Hammerton, assistant vice president/campaign leadership gifts. The former United Methodist pastor, college professor, basketball official, and athletic administrator is “a huge fan of Bradley men’s and women’s basketball,” Hammerton said. “She has a big heart. She helps out with anything we ask.”
For more information about BU B.L.A.S.T., see “Support Groups” at bubraves.com.
Teri Chan ‘07 broke the Bradley women’s tennis career record for singles victories. Chan, co-captain of the team, achieved her 60th career victory September 16 at the Drake Fall Invitational. Joie Rolf ’87, who held the record for 20 years, had achieved 59 career wins.
Soccer Soccer claimed a share of the Missouri Valley Conference regular-season championship by defeating Creighton 2-1 in the last match of the regular season. The Braves reached the title game of the Valley tournament.
Cross Country In the men’s and women’s Missouri Valley Conference cross country meet, Chris George ’08 and Sarah Westrick ’07 finished 12th and 15th respectively. Both teams finished sixth.
Volleyball The volleyball team finished eighth in the Valley after an 8-22 season.
Anthony Parker ’97 is back in the NBA. After a six-year absence, Parker is playing for the Toronto Raptors. ...Former Bradley star Marcellus Sommerville ‘06, a three-time All-Missouri Valley Conference forward, began his professional career for Atomeromu SE Paks in Hungary’s A Division in September. Sommerville worked out with the Dallas Mavericks and the San Antonio Spurs during NBA summer leagues...Patrick O’Bryant ’08 began his career with the Golden State Warriors in November. O’Bryant was selected with the ninth overall pick in the NBA draft a few months after leading the Braves to the Sweet 16...Michael Stewart ’03 is playing professional basketball in Peoria for the Peoria Kings of the ABA, a newly formed league.
Former Bradley soccer players Bryan Namoff ’00 (D.C. United) and Tim Regan ’04 (Chivas USA) helped their MLS teams to the playoffs…Gavin Glinton ’01 has returned to MLS with the L.A. Galaxy after a brief stint as BU assistant soccer coach while recovering from injury…Marcus Pollard ’94 is in his 12th season in the NFL and plays for the Detroit Lions.
Visit bubraves.com for updates.
To reserve the new book and DVD, Celebrating the History of Bradley Basketball: Victory, Honor & Glory, visit
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