Bradley Methodically Achieving his Goals
March 9, 2014
FORT WORTH, Texas -- For TCU junior diver Ricky Bradley, the success he's experiencing now in his college career has been achieved because of a failure in his freshman year.
Bradley, who will begin competition is his second NCAA Zone Diving Meet Monday, didn't qualify for the meet in his first season at TCU, falling short of his goal.
"I think it was a blessing in disguise because that made me work even harder," he said. "I am a goal-driven person and I when I set my mind to something, and if I fail at it the first time it only makes me try even harder."
Since that perceived failure, Bradley has qualified for the meet twice.
"Freshman year was rough and sophomore year I made zone cuts," he said. "It was a great season for me. I set my personal-best and I am still trying to beat it this year."
Last year he was named the team's diving MVP and was named first-team All-Big 12 (platform diving) and second team in the 1-meter and 3-meter. At the NCAA Zone Diving meet he placed 24th on the 1-meter, 29th on the 3-meter.
His score of 347.85 on the 3-meter at the 2013 Big 12 Championships is fourth-best in school history.
This year, Bradley qualified for zones in his first meet against SMU, and this year he's hoping for better marks in Minneapolis this week.
"Gaining experience from this meet last year was a good thing," he said. "Last year when I went I was really nervous. I was kind of shocked to see how good everyone there was and that they were the best at what they do."
This year it's a different story.
"I was really blown away by it the first time I went. This year, coming into it I know what to expect and I have seen everyone's faces before," said Bradley, who is majoring in finance and is on schedule to graduate next year. "There are a few new faces, but I know what to expect and I think it gives me an advantage."
Competing in zones for a chance to make the NCAA Championships was the furthest thing from his mind when he first began diving as a freshman at Racine High School in Racine, Wis.
He had a trampoline in his backyard growing up and he and his friends would do all sorts of aerials, and he figured the skills he learned on the trampoline would transfer over to diving.
He was right, but it took some time.
"When I first started diving I was just like I was in the backyard. I had no form and I was trying to do as many flips and twists as I could. Eventually my coach taught me form and I really like it and it felt good being in the air," he said. "It's hard to describe, but it's like you're floating through the air and time slows down, and after a while it became addictive almost. I knew it was something I want to do for a while."
He eventually joined a club his junior year and later became an all-state selection, conference and sectional champion in high school.
And collegiate doors began to open.
He made a recruiting DVD and sent it several colleges around the country. He made visits to the University of Denver, Penn State, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and TCU.
"Diving is the best thing I could have ever hoped for," he said. "It has allowed me to come to TCU and earn an education at one of the greatest schools in America, I think," he said. "Diving was a way for me to branch out and get an education that I would have not been able to get if I wasn't diving."