After 50 years, 101,372 wins, 126 teams coached, 60 championships, 26 region coach of the year honors and countless other accolades, Heritage boys basketball coach Ron Bradley recently announced his retirement.
The 75-year old Bradley said his fourth retirement is his last, leaving behind a legacy of leading his student athletes to fulfilling lives both on and off the court.
“It’s been 50 years,” Bradley said. “I’ve managed for a pretty long time to be with young people, staying out half the night, traveling on a school bus the equivalent of around the world three times. It’s time to let someone else have the responsibilities.”
Drew Williams will take over the Patriots, using the last three years of Bradley’s tutelage as guidance for his new position.
“It was an honor and a privilege to work with Coach Bradley,” Williams said. “The main reason I went to go work at Heritage was to have the opportunity to work around him and learn from him.
“He’s one of the greatest thigh school coaches of all time.”
Bradley, who also retired for two years and again two weeks, retired for just a day from Greater Atlanta Christian School three years ago before a school in the mountains called and offered him a job.
All set to relax among the peaceful scenery after spending years in the busy city, Bradley was going to take the job, but got what he considers his best offer ever from Bob Bradley.
“My son gave me a better offer,” Ron said. “He was the Assistant Principal at Heritage and said ‘You can come here and get time with your grandkids.’ No one’s ever given me an offer like that.”
Since then, Ron and his wife Jan have been eyeing the 50th year as their retirement point.
“I told my wife once the season started, that was it,” Bradley said. “You start looking at the obituaries and see these young people, 50 and 60 years old and you’re in your 70’s, and you may think there’s something to this old age thing.”
He will remain at Heritage one more year as a teacher, wanting to continue to work with young people.
Despite all the coach of the year accolades, including being the first to win the National Coach of the Year and National Coaches Award in the same year (2004), Ron’s finest memories of his career are the kids he has helped mentor.
“The youngsters are why I do it,” Bradley said. “I could start telling stories about some of the youngsters and what they’ve done with their lives from bringing the Olympics to Atlanta from being great doctors. I think what they’ve done with their life, that’s the high point.
“When I look back, they thought I was coaching basketball or baseball, but I like to think I was coaching kids.”