GRAND RAPIDS — A gymnast with Ovid-Elsie roots is becoming nationally known for his prowess.
Isaac Bradley is 12 years old and will be starting 7th grade at Crossroads Middle School (in the Northview Public School district) on the north side of Grand Rapids. Isaac attended Ovid-Elsie Area Schools from kindergarten to 1st grade before moving to Grand Rapids and still enjoys seeing friends when he is visiting his grandparents — Tom and Diane Bradley — in Bannister.
Isaac’s accomplishments? They are impressive. The USA Gymnastics Region 5 meet (Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio) was held in Battle Creek on April 17. Isaac earned Overall Champion for his level as well as 1st place in parallel bars and high bar.
That came on the heels of the Michigan State meet in Flint on March 27. Isaac earned Overall Champion, as well as 1st place in rings, vault, and parallel bars. His performance at the state meet qualified him for the regional meet.
Isaac competed in the junior development level this year. Men’s gymnastics competes in levels 4-10, as well as junior development. Junior development provides male gymnasts in the higher levels to work on developing additional skills based upon their areas of strength. For example, the handles on the pommel horse are not added until level 9, but those competing in junior development use the handles.
Bring on the hardware. Total medals earned thus far: 36, with 24 of those being in the top 3 places, gold: 10 (4 parallel bars, 2 pommel horse, 2 high bar, 1 vault, 1 rings), silver: 8 (2 floor, 1 high bar, 1 rings, 2 parallel bars, 1 vault, 1 high bar) and bronze: 6 (2 floor, 2 rings, 1 vault, 1 pommel) . Isaac was the Overall Champion at the Cereal City Classic in Battle Creek and the Overall Champion at the Don Sellman Meet in Cincinnati.
This was Isaac’s 5th year in competitive gymnastics. Isaac started gymnastics at 22 months old and first began competing at level 4 with Twistars Gymnastics in 2016 when he was 8 years old. In 2018, he joined Empowered Athletics, LLC, moving up a level each year and will possibly be competing at level 9 this coming competition year. He credits his coaches, Emily Bell and Joe Swinehart for their support in his success. Isaac said they are good coaches because they encourage him to try big skills that he is afraid to do, such as giants on the highbar and working on tsuk (round off back tuck on vault). Coach Kiki at Kiki’s Gymnastics in DeWitt also deserves some recognition for believing in a high energy 2 year old and allowed him to explore his abilities in gymnastics.
Isaac’s strongest events this competition season were parallel bars, floor and pommel horse, but was able to finish in the top three of all 6 events throughout this season. His favorite event is the rings because of the variety of different skills the rings allow you to do and that the rings are so different from all of the other events. Isaac even has a set of rings hanging at home that he can practice on.
When asked what accomplishments mean the most to him, Isaac laughed and said, “I’m married to the grind,” meaning that he dedicates a lot of hours each week to training and conditioning. Presently, Isaac is in the gym 13.5 hours a week and will be increasing to 16 hours/week in the fall. “I feel very happy and proud to be a regional champion,” he says. “It was a great feeling to see how all of the work I’ve put into gymnastics over the years led to the overall championship. It is a hard sport and I’ve had to overcome a lot of fears of the bigger skills, such as giants into flyaway dismounts on the high bar as well as tsuks on vault.” He just recently completed a week of gymnastics camp spending 35 hours honing in on new skills.
Isaac isn’t yet at the point where college recruitment is an option. His plan is to continue developing his gymnastics skills and taking those into the sport of diving in hopes that he’ll compete on his high school diving team when the time comes. In the meantime, Isaac enjoys the physical and mental challenge that gymnastics and competing provides, he says.
Isaac is unsure of how long he will stick to gymnastics because of his interests outside of the gym, which include soccer and diving. His teammates at Empowered Athletics have become a family and are incredibly supportive, so it will be a difficult decision to make in the future.
Regarding his education, Isaac is several years away from seriously thinking about education after high school, but is leaning towards something that allows him to be creative and work with others and help people.
He also has an interest in entertaining others. Isaac is a member of the ZCBJ Lodge #225 in Bannister and the Czechoslovakian Folk Dancing group, volunteers with people with disabilities, Michigan Ski for Light, and also enjoys hiking, swimming, MineCraft, biking, and drawing. His favorite subjects are science and band (trombone).
Isaac lives with his mom, Sarah Bradley. Other family members who have been supportive of Isaac and his gymnastics include his grandparents, Tom and Diane Bradley, and his aunt Mary Bradley and uncle Charles Olsen. It was his aunt Mary’s idea to have Isaac begin gymnastics when he was 22 months old because of how physically active he was climbing, standing on his head, flipping himself on the furniture. Isaac also receives a lot of support and encouragement from his Aunts Anmarie and Tish Bradley-Dodd of Ashley, and his Uncle Tom and Aunt Paula Bradley of Midway, Utah as well as his cousins and many family friends.
Isaac’s mom, Sarah, says “I am so happy that I made the decision to enroll him in gymnastics at a young age. The first few years were tough as he had to learn to wait his turn, stand in line, listen to the coaches.
“The skills that gymnastics has taught him are hard work, focus, determination, sportsmanship, courtesy to others, confidence and overcoming fears, as well as strength and flexibility. It is great to see these skills transfer over into other sports as well as in the classroom and community.”