For most little sisters, big brothers are usually more of a pain than a pleasure to have around.
For Oak Lawn senior outside hitter Becky Bradshaw, big brother Beau kind of breaks the mold.
“He’s my inspiration,” the Oak Lawn resident said of Beau Bradshaw, a 6-6 All-State Spartans middle hitter who graduated in 2007 and went on to play at Lakeland College.
Beau Bradshaw didn’t just leave behind a volleyball legacy at Oak Lawn, he also left Spartans girls coach Dennis McNamara with some words of advice.
“He would always tell me, ‘Watch out for my little sister,’ ” McNamara said, laughing. “He’d always say, ‘My little sister will be coming in a couple of years. And she’s really good.’ ”
So far, she’s lived up to the billing.
Bradshaw is in her third season on the Spartans varsity. As a junior, she earned All-Area honors, compiling 198 kills, 234 digs and 41 aces as Oak Lawn went from 9-22 in 2011 to 25-8 in 2013.
“She was instrumental in one of the biggest turnarounds in this program in the last decade,” McNamara said.
At 11-3 entering the week, Bradshaw’s 91 kills and 58 digs are helping the Spartans to keep flourishing.
As a youngster, Bradshaw played basketball, volleyball, ran track and was a cheerleader. When it was time to get high school serious, volleyball won out.
“I grew up playing volleyball with Beau,” she said. “He was way older than me, so I’d go to all of his tournaments, all of his games. He would play volleyball with me out in front [of the house]. That definitely pushed me go toward volleyball rather than any of the other sports.”
She picked up some of his tendencies. One is determination.
“I think my brother helped me with the mind-set of just wanting to win and forgetting about anything off the court,” she said. “That’s kind of like how guys are.
They just forget about everything off the court and focus on the game.”
The power-hitting of the boys game rubbed off as well.
“When I get a beautiful set I get like, ‘I just want to kill this.’ And I get so excited,” Bradshaw said, laughing. “Volleyball … the game, just gets me so pumped
up. I love playing it.”
The power definitely was a work in progress, though, when she entered Oak Lawn.
“I think I grew mostly in eighth grade,” she said. “I was tall, awkward, skinny. High school and club ball helped me develop some muscle, and that’s when I started to progress in volleyball.”
Bradshaw’s at the point now where she should be able to follow in Beau’s footsteps collegiately. But little sister and big brother aren’t two peas in a pod on everything.
“It doesn’t really go along with volleyball, but I want to go into fashion design,” Bradshaw said. “Apparel and fashion, that’s my other passion.
“Usually people who are athletic aren’t into fashion stuff. That’s why I’ve been searching for a while for a college that has both of them.”