January 6, 2012

LM NCAA Division III Preseason Player of the Year: Sam Bradman

One Ring is Not Enough at Salisbury

by Jac Coyne | LaxMagazine.com | Coyne Archive | Twitter

Sea Gulls coach Jim Berkman said some former Salisbury players told Sam Bradman, "You're a great player, but until you win championships, you can't be classified in the same league." Berkman said of Bradman: "I think he took that personally, for sure."
© Greg Wall

At the end of his sophomore year, Sam Bradman had amassed a trove of individual honors. He was a first team All-American in 2010 and the USILA Midfielder of the Year after scoring 58 goals and assisting 28 others for Salisbury. When he returned to campus the following fall, however, he came to understand that Salisbury players are measured by a different standard.

"All of the alumni were showing me their rings and I didn't have one," Bradman said. "They may not have been All-Americans for all I know, but it didn't matter, because they were on a championship team. I was like, 'Damn, all those guys have all those rings together and I don't have one of those.' I don't care if I'm an All-American. People can't see that I'm an All-American, but if I wear a ring around they can see I'm a national champion. That was my motivation."

With the ring on his mind, Bradman worked on all facets of his game – many of which were exposed in the Sea Gulls' loss to Tufts in the 2010 NCAA championship game – and earned his coveted jewelry. He scored seven goals as Salisbury avenged that loss by throttling Tufts 19-7 in the 2011 final.

"I think he has felt the pressure," said Salisbury head coach Jim Berkman. "The bar has been set — not by me, but by the guys who played before him — and I think some of them said, 'Sam, you're a great player, but until you win championships, you can't be classified in the same league.' I think he took that personally, for sure."

Now that he has a finger ornament of his own, Bradman, along with the rest of the Sea Gull captains, are helping the new players understand that just putting on a Salisbury uniform does not make you a champion. He has even had some heart-to-heart conversations with a couple of freshmen to relay this fact.

"You're not close to Salisbury lacrosse yet. Wait until the spring before running your mouth about that," said Bradman, recalling one of his chats with a rookie. "Wait until you win something before you start talking about that. I tell them, 'You can't think you have it already, because you don't have anything. You've got to work for it.'"

"Sam leads by example because he loves the game," Berkman said. "He's always playing it, he always has a stick and he's always shooting. He has done a good job here of dragging guys out with him so he can make guys better around him. He's never out there alone."

The only lonesome thing is that ring on his finger.

"All of the alumni come to me now and say, 'It's about time you got one of these,'" said Bradman. "Then they show me a handful of rings, so it's more motivation to go back and get a second one."

LaxMagazine.com MD3 PPOY Vote

Sean Aaron, Union

Sam Bradman, Salisbury

Kevin McCormick, Tufts

Jeff Keating, Roanoke

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