Brad Ledford was not among the best players I ever coached, but that doesn’t mean he was bad either. A lot of instances, playing time has a lot to do with when you come through the program. Brad’s senior year, the starters were Chris Sparks, Anthony Mayes, Corey Alexander, Kevin Thomas and Charles “Buggs” Terrell. Now, all five of those guys made it hard to break into the lineup. Brad, however, was a very capable sixth man. A snowy January Friday night at Smithland will forever be etched in my mind. Star player Anthony Mayes had taken a brief hiatus from the team. Brad filled in for him and made five three-pointers as we almost upset Livingston on the road. A decision was made by the coaching staff to allow Anthony back on the team a few days later. I will never forget a conservation Mr. Ledford and I had at that time. He very simply said that he would support whatever decision the coaches felt was best for the team. One reason that Mr. Ledford did this was because it was exactly what his son Brad wanted him to do.
Brad Ledford was about team first.
Now folks, let me tell you something. The chances of that happening today are about the same as a polar bear taking a stroll through downtown Cadiz on a hot July afternoon. Anyhow, our team went on the win the first district championship that Trigg had won in 10 years, and from that point on, we turned the corner toward sustained success. I always point to the unselfishness of the Ledford family as a behind-the-scenes reason – that no one knew about until now – for the resurgence of Trigg County basketball.
Now, to catch up with Brad Ledford. After high school, Brad attended HCC for two years. He then attended Eastern Kentucky University for two more and got his degree in Sports Administration. Brad then did a summer internship with the Nashville Sounds. Keeping his nose to the grindstone, Brad followed up the summer internship by getting his Masters in Sports Administration from EKU, which he finished in August of 2011.
After all this education, Brad Ledford was ready to work. The first offer he had was to do an internship at EKU for $8,000 a year. Brad remarked to Dr. Colby Jubenville, director of sports management at EKU, that he couldn’t afford to take that job. Dr. Jubenville said, “In my opinion you can’t afford not to.” The good doctor proved to be right. After one year, Brad was hired full time at EKU as an assistant athletic director working with marketing and promotions. He had a chance to work with AD Jack Lengyel. Lengyel was the man who took over as Marshall University AD after their tragic plane crash decades ago. Lengyel was played by Matthew McConaughey in the movie “We Are Marshall.”
After three years as Assistant AD at EKU, Brad received a job offer from Illinois State in Normal, Ill. Illinois State is the alma mater of former NBA great Doug Collins. Brad started out as Director of Marketing and moved up to an assistant Athletic Director for Marketing and Sales. He took over $1.2 million in sponsorship sales. Brad started ISU’s video production area from the ground up. This included all video boards, items produced to be on video boards, online items, coaches’ shows, etc. Needless to say, Brad Ledford was given a lot of responsibility at Illinois State University. When you do a god job, folks tend to notice. Therefore, Brad soon got another job opportunity.
In November 2011, Brad Ledford was one of over 150 applicants for an Assistant AD’s job at the University of Alabama. He got the job and is now an Assistant AD working with Marketing, Ticket Promotions and just about everything else. Since Brad has been at Alabama, the Tide has won six national championships, two in football and one each in gymnastics, women’s softball and men’s and women’s golf.
Of course, Alabama is known best for its’ football. Over 80,000 attended each of their last two spring games. Brad says that you just can’t describe the passion the people there have for Alabama football. He says, “When you are in the stadium and 102,000 people say Roll TIDE in unison, it is powerful.”
I asked Brad how Alabama’s football program compared to UK’s basketball program. He said, “The passion is similar in each. College football is just so big with 100,000-seat stadiums and the like. It is a multiplier of 5 or 10 compared to basketball.” Brad also said, “When it comes to Alabama-Auburn, nobody sits on the fence in the middle. It is a lot like the UK-U of L rivalry.”
Who knows how far Brad Ledford will advance in the world of college athletics? He has already traveled to Texas Stadium, Oregon State, Miami and all over the US. Despite his extensive travels, he has never strayed far from the family farm in Roaring Springs when it comes to work ethic and values. Brad said, “I am so grateful to my parents for everything they taught me. The values and work ethic I got from them, as well as my small-town upbringing, has helped me tremendously. My parents taught me to live by the golden rule.”
Speaking of parents, Brad and his wife Natalie are the proud parents of a one-month-old son named Dawson. Do you reckon ROLL TIDE will be among young Dawson’s first words?
OT: Yes, Brad has met Alabama’s football coach Nick Saban.
OTT: Brad’s parents James Ray and Gay are obviously very proud of Brad. James Ray said, “As your children get older, you have to give them a longer rope and hang on.” They are currently enjoying the good times with their children and grandchildren.
Enthusiasm Makes the Difference
Mike Wright is the former head coach of boys basketball and cross country at Trigg County High School. Emails concerning Coach’s Corner can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.