ASU's Bradshaw Out for Redemption
by Ryan Reiswig
Most people who make it to the level of collegiate athletics have played their respective sport for many years prior to college. After all, there are only a select few that are able to compete at that high of stage and it takes years of practice and learning of their sport to get there.
There are some, however, who inherit or just have the natural ability to excel at their given sport.
Arizona State's Cameron Bradshaw just may be one of them.
Heading into the Pac-10 diving championships February 24-26 in Seattle, Wash., Bradshaw is looking for redemption after a tough end to last season which saw him miss the NCAA Championships. One person helping him accomplish his immediate goal of making it to the NCAA's will be his father, Mark Bradshaw, who also doubles as ASU's head diving coach.
Despite coming from a family with a rich diving tradition, Bradshaw didn't pick up the sport until age 15.
"I've been around (diving) my whole life and it never really inspired me to do it," says Bradshaw, whose parents both excelled in collegiate diving. "When I was a kid I'd think that I wanted to do it and try different stuff but it was a lot harder than it looks and I'd give up pretty easily."
If it weren't for his father inviting him to watch a diving meet six years ago, Bradshaw may not be where he is today.
"What really set it for me was when I got older, my dad offered me to come up with him to the 2005 World Championship meet," says Bradshaw. "It was in Canada so I thought it'd be a really cool trip, so I went up and watched in Montreal. It was a lot of fun. I'm getting goose bumps even talking about it, because that trip is what lit the fire under me. I saw everyone out there and I said to myself, 'I can do that. I've seen those dives.'"
While Cameron was new to competing in the sport at age 15, being around the sport so much early on may have given him a head start. This didn't mean he wasn't slightly behind in some areas as well though.
"He had some inherent skills that maybe someone who just started wouldn't have, but he was also kind of behind," says Mark, who competed on the 1988 U.S. Olympic Diving Team. "We just tried to keep it realistic through his start of his diving and it's really been up to him how far he wanted to pursue it. Once he found success with it he's been like a sponge."
The reason Cameron is "like a sponge" is because of his passion for the sport. He says he wants to win more than anything, something both of his parents did a lot of at his age.
"I really have fallen in love with the feeling at the end of the meet when you've accomplished something," says Cameron, a kinesiology major. "That's what I found in high school, I was winning a lot and I really loved that feeling. I just loved owning the moment and being the big guy. Coming into the collegiate world, there are a lot of big guys and it just makes a bigger fire under me and I want to beat all of them."
Coaching Cameron and helping him beat the big guys is something Mark is proud to have the opportunity to do. It also allows him to spend a lot of quality time with his son.
"As you can imagine, it's pretty unique," says Mark of coaching his son. "It's really nice because I get the chance to see him every day and help him shape his career both diving and educationally. I can be a big part of that so that means a lot."
That doesn't mean there aren't father-son moments though.
"Sometimes it's hard, father-son kind of things," says Cameron. "You get frustrated and you have personal feelings sometimes, but at the end of the day you have to get past it."
Every year ASU's divers fill out a goal sheet with certain goals they will look to meet through the course of their season. Last year, Cameron's season ended when he was the runner-up in the Pac-10 Championships in the 3-meter dive, leaving him with a bitter taste in this mouth. This year he's looking to dive beyond the Pac-10 Championships.
"I desperately want to make it to the NCAA's, because I feel that I got robbed last year," states Cameron. "This year I'm very passionate about making the NCAA's."
Both Cameron and his father are also very passionate about another sport as well, golf. They both play often during the offseason and Cameron regularly drives the ball 300-plus yards.
"I can shoot better than him but that kid can drive the ball," admits Mark. "He's done some tape-measure drives, but from 50 yards in he needs a lot of work."
Unlike his father, Cameron offers no compliments.
"He's just frustrated about his own driving skills, but I can take him out on the course any day," says Cameron, laughing. "I don't know what he's talking about, 50 yards in I'm pretty awesome."
So who's the better golfer?
"It would be me," admits Cameron. "He was bluffing; he knows I'd beat him."