His 32-year career included stint as Hopewell’s first coach

by Cliff Mehrtens

North Mecklenburg High football coach Mike Bradley has resigned, and plans to retire from coaching and teaching after a 32-year career.

Bradley spent seven years at North Mecklenburg, including the past three as head coach. His teams had a 10-24 record. He was the defensive coordinator the four previous seasons under coach Glen Padgett.

Bradley also was the first coach in Hopewell High history, leading the program that began in 2001. He coached four years at Hopewell before moving to North Mecklenburg.

“I had some great experiences at North Mecklenburg and Hopewell,” said Bradley, who will turn 54 this month. “It’s been a tough decision. I like teaching, I like coaching and I liked coming to work every day. It will be an adjustment.”

Bradley, a U.S. history teacher, will continue teaching until the end of February. He then plans to become a part-owner in a third Jersey Mike’s sandwich shop.

Fittingly, Bradley is from Englishtown, N.J., and his first name is Mike.

Bradley, who told his team about the move late last week, has had a steady stream of well-wishers at school.

“The best part of this profession is the relationships,” he said. “There have been so many good people I’ve been fortunate to work with – students, teachers, coaches and administrators. I have been blessed.”

North Mecklenburg athletics director Kevin Wilson said the coaching vacancy, which will be tied to a teaching position, would be posted on the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools website.

Bradley said he wouldn’t take part in finding his replacement, but that the new coach will join an improving situation. North Mecklenburg lost most of its junior varsity team two years ago when Hough High opened and attendance boundaries shifted.

The Vikings struggled to a 1-10 record last season, but Bradley said next year’s squad will include 30 seniors. And, North Meck’s junior varsity team won six games, including an upset of Mallard Creek.

Bradley said he’s excited about venturing into the business world, but didn’t rule out a possible return to coaching or teaching.

He said he always wanted to go into coaching and teaching, and switched majors in college (Guilford) after beginning as a business major. He coached softball, football and girls basketball for 10 years at Northeast Guilford High. Bradley then spent 11 years at West Carteret High, where he coached boys basketball and football.

Bradley was West Carteret’s head coach for three years before launching the Hopewell program in 2001.

“At Hopewell, it was rough the first couple of years with wins and losses, but I worked with great people and great kids,” Bradley said. “The kids were pretty resilient, and gave us everything. It’s been a good run.”

Bradley said his priorities have been “faith, family, football and school,” and the opportunity to own a business could result in a financial gain for his family. He’s part-owner of two Jersey Mike’s shops in the area.