When University of Maine-Machias men’s basketball coach Brac Brady talks about it being a tough season, he’s only partially referring to the team’s record.
It looked like anything but a trying season as the Clippers sailed out to a 3-0 record in early November, but Brady and his team members were rocked by the news that Brady’s wife Bridgitte suffered a stroke that left her paralyzed on her right side and unable to speak.
“It happened in mid-November. She was at [Eastern Maine Medical Center] in Bangor for 3½ weeks,” said Brady, now in his fifth season as UMM’s men’s coach. “She’s been home since with close monitoring and therapy. I’ve been taking care of her as best I can.”
Since his wife’s stroke occurred, Brady has been on a leave of absence from his duties as both coach and the school’s athletic director.
“It’s been very difficult in the timing as well, but my assistants have done a great job keeping the team going in the right direction,” Brady said. “Rich Fabri, who was the former AD, has done a lot to fill in for me there as well as women’s coach John Duncan.”
Brady also credited team managers Cassie Craven and Hilary Hopkins for their assistance.
Assistant coach Kenny Johnson has been interim head coach for the last seven weeks.
“He was there for the first month of the season and has been monitoring us very closely. I’m able to keep him informed of all the happenings associated with the team,” Johnson said. “He’s still very much involved.
“He was able to visit and conduct a practice prior to the Paul Bunyan tournament [Dec. 4-5] and we were very pleased to see him.”
Bridgitte Brady, a teacher at Machias Valley Christian Academy, has made significant recovery the last few weeks.
“She’s doing very well. Her whole right side is greatly improved and she has full speech after not being able to speak at all,” Brac Brady said.
Brady plans to make his official return to the team today for a regular practice and expects to coach the team’s first game after Christmas break Tuesday against Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick.
“My plan is to be back full time with the team Saturday, and I look forward to getting back to some form of normal,” said Brady. “Her father has come to stay with us and help take care of her. We’ve had a lot of support from my and her families.
“The community here has been great, too. Machias Valley Baptist Church and everything have been great.”
The Clippers have gone 1-6 in Brady’s absence, but the Christmas break should help the team regroup.
“Any team will function a little better with the head coach present, but the guys have really rallied around us and have been giving a solid effort,” Johnson said.
Brady, who has compiled a 68-39 record with UMM the last four seasons while winning a Sunrise Conference title in 2007, is optimistic about the second half of the season as the team gets close to Sunrise Conference play.
“Kenny has done a really good job keeping the boat afloat and getting things back on track, and I think the players are ready to get everyone back and everybody together,” he said.