ERIE — Carol Bradford just wanted her son to have a sport to participate in.

Back in 2008, Jack Bradford wasn't all that interested in any of the mainstream sports an, with the Olympics going at the time in Beijing, one particular sport caught his eye.

"I saw fencing," he said, "and I said I want to do that."

Wanting to do that and making that happen are two completely different animals. But as fate would have it, the Bradford's happened across an ad in their local paper.

"She saw the add," Jack said, "And the rest is history."

It is a story that is still very much in its infancy. Jack Bradford, in his short time in the sport has already accomplished so much and under the tutelage of legendary coach Gary Copeland has a chance to do some much bigger things in the future.

Bradford, a junior at Erie High School, has had a gradual ascension in the sport, but it really has began to pay dividends in 2016.

In February in Cleveland, Bradford competed in the US Fencing Junior Olympics and won a gold medal in the Junior Men's Epee.

Most recently he was in Cancun, Mexico — representing the United States — at the Pan-Am Games. He earned a silver medal with his Jr. Men's Epee team and was 10th individually.

It is a sport that has taken him all over the world and in 2015 he also represented his country as a member of the Cadet World Championship team in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.


"It was crazy, You get there and you get treated like an athlete, not a kid, and you are expected to perform. It was a lot of pressure, but it was a lot of fun too," said Bradford, who finished 29th individually and 4th in the mixed team event there. "No one knew who I was at my first international tournament."

Bradford has been one of the start pupils for coach Gary Copeland at the Boulder-based Northern Colorado Fencing Club.

Copeland has seen his fair share of fencers come and go, having coached more than 800 U.S. national competition finalists (1st-8th place) from 1988-2015, including 47 individual U.S. national champions, 14 U.S. national team champions, and 64 junior and cadet World champions and Pan-American team positions.

Copeland has spotted traits in Bradford that he knows have led to his success and will continue to further his progression in the sport.

"He is pretty fast, more so than his peers, and he is a little more fearless," said Copeland, who was on hand for Bradford's Junior Olympic title. "The coach of the kid we defeated (Southern California's Porter Hesselgrave), who we were down five touches to, told us at the end of the bout that he simply never gives up.

"It doesn't matter what the score is or how much he is down, he keeps scoring and that is a good assessment of Jack."

Bradford will certainly have his chance to compete in college as well. The Ivy League schools all have teams and Bradford has his eyes on both Ohio State and Penn State as well.

Jon Yunt: or