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Profile Of An Olympic Failure: Frank Bradley
BUFFALO, Ny. (CAP) - For Frank Bradley, it's always been about the brush.
"He was brushing his teeth by three months, his hair by four. By the time he was one-year-old, he had found the broom, and I just up and sold the Hoover," said Frank's mother, Angela Bradley.
Frank's love of brushes brought him to the ideal occupation - junior-middle school janitor - and the ideal hobby: curling.
"You should have seen that sumbitch on the ice," said Frank's Uncle Roger. "He was like Michelle Kwan, only uglier and without skates. And less oriental."
Frank worked cleaning toilets and sweeping halls at the Buffalo, NY junior-middle school during the week, but it was on the weekends that his true love came to the fore. Frank and his team, the Buffalo Brawlers, competed in curling matches all over the northeast and into southern Canada. It was at a Plattsburg match that he came to the attention of a representative of the United States Curling Association.
"I've been doing this for a long time, and his sweeping was absolutely flawless," said the USCA's Brad Dunning. "I was stunned! I offered him a spot on the 2014 Olympic team then and there."
It was the high point of Frank Bradley's life. The elated janitor started practicing night and day. He flooded his basement, equipped it with air conditioners and spent his nights on the ice, sweeping, sweeping, sweeping to the sounds of "Ice, Ice Baby." Nothing could stop him, keep him from his dream.
Yeah, right. Frank's world started to fall apart in September of 2012. It started with a slight twinge when he was sweeping Miss Kennedy's biology classroom. By the time Frank hit Mr. Dodge's social studies room, he could barely hold the broom.
Alarmed, Frank rushed to the school nurse, where he received the horrifying news: he was suffering from fibro-untersiary carpal tunnel syndrome. In a heartbeat, his life was over.
"After I got FUCT, I lost everything," Frank told CAP from the shadows of the cardboard box he calls home. He lives on a seedy Buffalo street surrounded by other near-Olympians and oil addicts. "I couldn't work, couldn't curl. But I still have my memories. I still have those."
Frank Bradley isn't the first athlete that the stone has destroyed. In 1994, Denise Grabel was forced to pull out of the Lillehammer games after developing narcolepsy. While most of us fall asleep on the couch watching curling, Ms. Grabel was lucky if she could sweep her way halfway down the rink before crashing to the ice, unconscious.
Despite its dangers, the call of curling is strong. "It made me what I am today, and I'll never regret it. Hey, could you open that can of dog food for me? Damn hands," said Frank Bradley.
We left him there in the glow of the sterno can, a broken man with broken dreams, but clutching memories the rest of us can only dream of. Memories, and a big dirty spoon.
- Rich Gray