Freshmen Sanderson, Buck named Kelly Bradham award winners
It was a grand day for Nevada High School freshmen student-athletes Case Sanderson and Kirstin Buck, as the duo were named 2020 recipients of the Kelly Bradham Memorial Newcomer Award.
Created in November of 2001, and voted on by NHS coaches, the Kelly Bradham Newcomer Award is presented to a male and female student-athlete deemed the most significant contributor as a first-time varsity letter-winner.
Before a small gathering of family and school staff, athletic director John McNeley presented the prestigious award to the frosh duo. Before doing so, McNeley lauded
"Kelly Bradham bled crimson and gray, he loved Nevada Tiger athletics," said McNeley, a former NHS student-athlete from the late '70s to early '80s. "Many of us former Nevada Tiger athletes, and Vernon County athletes, have articles in our scrapbooks that were penned by Kelly Bradham. He was a straight shooter, he was very opinionated. But, he was always a supporter of (NHS) athletics. That came first and foremost with anything he did."
Added McNeley: "He was a great conversationalist, a great storyteller. And it was easy to be drawn to him, because he had substantial knowledge in many different areas of life, and certainly was not afraid to let you know he had substantial knowledge in those areas."
McNeley noted that Bradham was a frequent visitor to NHS classrooms. "Many times it was the history classroom, where he had just a vivid memory of so many historical events," he said. "He gave a perspective that the students weren't accustomed to."
Summed up McNeley: "Those of us that knew him loved him. We knew always where he stood — and knew that nobody has ever loved Nevada Tiger athletics more than Kelly Bradham."
While both were multi-sport athletes, Buck excelled as a third baseman and catcher, helping lead the Lady Tigers to their first state tournament berth since 2011.
"She is a well-rounded athlete," McNeley said during the presentation, noting that "she was a major threat offensively, and also contributed some in the circle. She has a very bright future ahead of her."
While speaking about Buck, McNeley noted that both recipients have received excellent tutelage from their parents through the years.
"She has been coached well at home — that is such an advantage when our Nevada Tiger coaches are able to add athletes such as Kirstin to their program," McNeley said.
In a tough year for NHS football Sanderson was a major bright spot, specifically excelling at tailback. Due to injuries in the Nevada backfield, Sanderson was forced into action early-and-often. He made the most of his varsity rushing opportunities, eclipsing the century mark on multiple occasions. Sanderson also played some quarterback and outside linebacker.
"A key to his success is the fact that he's tuned in from a mental standpoint," McNeley said. "He's able to understand the game of football as a freshman, maybe in a more comprehensive manner than what a lot of kids at his age could. And that is why Coach (Wes) Beachler was able to elevate him to the starting positions on Friday night. He was a major contributor, (and) not someone who just blended in. Case made plays that caught your eye on a consistent basis."
Beachler concurred with McNeley's thoughts on Sanderson.
"I think the mental side of the game most kids his age don't necessarily have," Beachler said. "The understanding of the game, the football IQ."
Beachler added that Sanderson has a relentless work-ethic. "He's good in the weight-room, doesn't miss days anywhere. And he comes to practice with the right attitude."
Beachler said his varsity playing experience should serve as a "springboard to future years."