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UJ's Brady Birch makes history as a fifth-year senior

Brady Birch is the "grandpa" of the Jimmies men's basketball team, currently playing in his fifth year.

For the first time in the history of the University of Jamestown men’s basketball team, there is a fifth-year senior on the roster.

Brady Birch enrolled at Jamestown for the 2017-18 season and immediately proved why he was an asset for his team by volunteering to come off the bench instead of starting early in his tenure with the Jimmies.

“I think the biggest thing about that is he doesn’t care either way. He doesn't care if he starts, he doesn’t care if he comes off the bench,” Jimmies head coach Danny Neville said. “A few years back, it was him and Brock Schrom, a former big guy that were battling for the starting spot and he came into my office and said, 'Just start Brock and let me come off the bench,' and so he’s just always been that guy.”

The decision to stay for a fifth season was an easy one for Birch after his girlfriend secured employment to remain with him in Jamestown.

“I wanted to start my master's (degree), get some extra schooling in and I knew we’d have a very good team coming back this year,” Birch said. “I love all the guys, love all the coaches, love the community; so once my girlfriend got a job around Jamestown, I figured why wouldn’t I do that, so that’s what came into the decision.”

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Birch is working toward his master's degree in education with the hopes of being a physical-education teacher and basketball coach. His passion for coaching, his experience, and the way he looks at the game helps him be a coach on the court, Neville said.

“He’s basically a second coach on the floor. Usually, the second coach on the floor is your point guard, which I think (Marc) Kjos is another coach on the floor. But when you have a coach on the floor that is a big guy, that is unheard of,” Neville said. “He does all the little things, he doesn’t care about individual stats and individual accolades, he just cares about winning.”

One of the things that Birch brings to the Jimmies is his personality off the floor, Neville said.

“He’s awesome. He does a good job of hanging out with guys on the team and being a good role model for them,” Neville said. “He’s kind of the old man, grandpa on the team, so guys really flock to him and he develops good relationships with our players which is really important.”

During his five years as a Jimmie, Birch said he has grown exponentially both on the floor and off of it.

“I've grown with my relationship with my players compared to high school. I’ve grown really close with my coaches and the players. On the court, I’ve grown mentally and physically. I’ve gotten stronger,” Birch said. “I’ve gotten smarter, reading defenses and figuring out how to guard bigger bigs in this league.”

Through his five years, Birch has grown and adapted as a leader for the team.

“When I came in here I wasn’t much of a vocal leader. I was more of a lead-by-example kind of guy, doing the dirty work, the hustle plays, things like that, but I’ve had to kind of step into a more vocal role in the last two or three years based off the players and the guys we’ve had,” Birch said. “I’ve grown in that aspect and I’ve become more comfortable with that. I think that will help me in the future as a coach and as a teacher.”

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