April 9, 2004
Each year, the Varsity Club of Florida State University honors a student-athlete with the prestigious Doc Fauls Award, which is named after the late Don Fauls, head athletic trainer at FSU from 1954-1986. The award was established in 1998 to recognize the senior Seminole student-athlete who has overcome the most adversity to participate in athletics for Florida State University. FSU’s head coaches and athletic training staff nominate the athletes and a committee decides the winners. The 2004 recipients of the award are Lauren Bradley (women’s basketball) and Greg Jones (football) – marking the first time since the award’s inception that two student-athletes were honored.
“Several years ago, the Varsity Club decided to create the Doc Fauls Award,” Monk Bonasorte, Varsity Club Director, said. “Don Fauls is legendary here. He was the athletic trainer here back when Florida State started an athletic program. He worked with several athletes here like Burt Reynolds, Fred Biletnikoff. It was an honor when we decided to put this award together because Don Fauls was about toughness. As a trainer, his job was to put people back onto the field, the court, back on the track. Doc was very instrumental in helping to develop our young trainers to where we are today.
“Unfortunately Greg, who is training for the NFL, was not able to be there but for Lauren, it was a just a great honor for her to be there,” Bonasorte continued. “The athletes, especially those who have had to overcome adversity with injuries, they’re the ones who have to work harder and their commitment to coming back is stronger. The importance of this award is realizing that they have overcome some pretty big adversity to achieve what they have. Both of these athletes are very deserving of this award.”
The award was presented at the recent Golden Nole Awards Banquet, which annually recognizes all Florida State student-athletes. Bradley received a standing ovation from here peers as she accepted the award. It was an emotional moment for the Lake Mary, Fla., native.
“It does mean a lot because there are so many athletes here who have been through a lot throughout their careers,” Bradley said. “It meant a lot to me to me recognized in that way, just to know that all I have been through in my career hasn’t been for nothing. It’s hard to hear all of your injuries in a long list because you don’t go through it all at one time. It was emotional because it has been a struggle for me throughout my career. All the support I have received from this entire university and my coaches and teammates – it just meant a lot for everyone to be there.”
Bradley came to Florida State University in the fall of 1999 with a clear goal in mind. She wanted to help build a winning tradition in women’s basketball through hard work and discipline both on and off the court. As an honor roll student at Lake Mary High School, she helped lead her team to a 113-10 record, four conference and district championships and one state championship and was named Florida’s 6A Player of the Year. Bradley knew what hard work was and understood the task ahead of her in Tallahassee. What she didn’t realize was that injuries throughout her career would test her endurance physically, mentally and emotionally.
Bradley’s goals at Florida State required her to play basketball with injuries her entire career. In her freshman year (1999-2000), she started nine games and played in 19 overall despite being sidelined for a month with a fractured foot. Her injuries continued in her sophomore year (2000-01) with the development of intractably painful bilateral tibiae which remained difficult to diagnose despite multiple examinations and diagnostic tests. She underwent surgery on both legs and required a medical redshirt. The decision, taken in early January, was tough for Bradley and the FSU coaches to make but necessary to allow for proper healing of the chronic stress fractures in her lower legs.
Upon her return in 2001-02, the severe pain remained in her legs, and she eventually was diagnosed with the systemic Sjogren’s disease. Despite treatment for this condition, her tibia pain continued causing severe discomfort with every running step. However, she never gave up and persevered and played. Eventually, an experimental shock wave therapy helped alleviate her pain and allowed her to play in 28 game her junior year (2002-03), but she averaged only 12 minutes per game.
In her senior season (2003-04), Bradley was named team captain by her peers and emerged as a leader both on and off the court. Multiple injures including back pain, a hyper-extended elbow, and the continued dealing of her Sjogren’s syndrome did not slow her down. She let her playing do much of the talking, even with the pain, and had the best season of her career, nearly doubling her single season points from all three previous seasons. She averaged 8.9 points and 4.5 rebounds per game and started 25 games in 22.8 minutes per game. She recorded six games of 30 or more minutes and shot a team-high 81 percent from the free throw line. She recorded 15 games in double figures, grabbed six or more rebounds in 10 games and had a team-high 29 blocks. She also led the team in scoring five times and in rebounding in eight games.
Many athletes would have given up had they been faced with Bradley’s medical problems. However, Bradley’s determination and love for Florida State women’s basketball would not let her quit. She was part of FSU’s first NCAA Tournament team in 10 years in 2001 and the WNIT teams in 2003 and 2004. She also helped take a team that finished at the bottom of the ACC year after year to the top four, three of her five years at FSU. In the classroom, Bradley earned All-ACC Academic honors all four years and earned a Bachelor’s degree in criminology and English last summer. She is on target to earn a Master’s degree in sport management in August and hopes to pursue a career in coaching.
“My struggles have helped develop my character throughout my time here,” Bradley said. “It’s allowed me to realize that I am good at other things besides basketball. I’ve been a good student since I’ve been here and I have gained interests in other things, especially the year I redshirted and couldn’t participate.”