Spencer Bradbury is one of the top athletes at Parksville’s Ballenas Secondary School.
The Grade 12 student is ranked nationally in the 400-metres hurdles and has drawn interest from Waterloo University, McGill University, University of British Columbia, and American schools in North Dakota and Tennessee.
Bradbury, however, is still gauging which university would best meet his needs. Aside from being a top athlete, Bradbury is also an exceptional academic student. He plans to take mechanical engineering after high school and has an opportunity to gain both bacademic and athletic scholarships.
“It’s a balancing act of sports and academics,” said Bradbury, a member of a group at Ballenas whose project runs on the International Space Station this month. “I am looking at two of the top schools for academics — Waterloo and UBC — and they’s also interested in me joining their sports team, which is great. I still have time to decide and do a lot of contemplating.”
Bradbury said his primary concern in going to university is academics but he can’t see life without sports.
“My studies will always come first but athletics is such a huge part of who I am that if I can compete in university, that would be amazing as well. So I am pretty lucky to be able to talk with the coaches and have an opportunity to go to their schools.”
This spring, Bradbury was set to take part in a number of track meets in spring and summer that have now been sidetracked by the COVID-19 pandemic, which also has impacted his training.
“We’re not allowed to have our big team practices anymore and our coaches can’t come out anymore,” said Bradbury. “It’s not the same having to train on our own but there’s still a few of us that are doing our best to get the workouts in. Doing anything is better than doing nothing.”
Bradbury is a member of Mid Island Distance running club and is coached by Randy and Kim Longmuir. He works out with two other athletes at the Rotary Bowl in Nanaimo. He said he has three structured workouts per week and does three longer runs on his own.
“We make sure with observe the physical distancing protocols,” said Bradbury. “We make sure we’re nicely spread out.”
Bradbury misses school. He says there’s a lot of unknowns how things are going to progress amid the coronavirus pandemic. But he counts himself fortunate that he’s already completed all the prerequisites he needs to attend university.
“I finished all my academics last semester,” said Bradbury. “So it’s not to stressful for me but I know a lot of my friends and other teenagers out there are feeling it more because they’re not sure how this is going to affect their admissions to universities and possibilities for scholarships. We’re not going to be getting the same education that we would normally get.”
Bradbury also feels a bit sad about the likelihood of not being able to experience attending graduation ceremonies and prom.
“It’s not looking promising,” said Bradbury. “It’s funny because I told my teammates the same thing. As an athlete I am almost sadder in missing out on the track season than I am about missing out on graduation.”