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Freshman phenom excited to make brother proud, help team

Starting line, finish line

A sort of mythology precedes 15-year-old Brady Rude.

He is hard-wired for sports success, just like his dad, Brock. Newman Meteors coach Jube Manzano's eyebrows approach his hairline as he talks about the junior-tackle giant who made opponents sweat just by stepping onto the sideline.

Newman Athletic Director Mike Papoccia calls Brady a "clone" of SVM football player of the year Brian Bahrs.

Even Nick Rude invokes something of a tagline when he describes his "little" brother's drive.

"Brady is Brady," the Newman senior said. "Brady knows he's good, and I actually look up to him because of his attitude. He's got a lot of confidence, and you can tell. He just kind of walks with it, and it helps the team – the confidence that he brings."

The Catch 22

Brady also knows he must work for everything he gets.

"Brady's a very humble kid," Accardi said. "He's taken the whatever-you-want-me-to-do approach and hasn't let anything go to his head. Anything he gets, he wants to work for."

The freshman is off to a nice varsity start. He joined Nick as half of the Comet quartet that singed a path to the 800-meter relay title at the Top Times Indoor Championship on Friday. The time of 1 minute, 35.6 seconds was 1.4 ticks faster than runner-up Erie-Prophetstown.

"It was especially cool just being with the team that I've looked up to all of these years," Brady said. "Being part of it makes me work a lot harder. Nothing's granted here. I have to prove myself. It's special to be on that relay, and it means something for me to be on it."

Nick pounded that humility into him since they were kids, and continued to do so when Brady was called up to the football playoff practice squad.

"Seeing him staring me down from the defensive side was really intimidating," Brady said.

One particular snot-knocker made for some good dinner-table talk.

"He hit me first, and the initial contact knocked me back about 10 feet, and then a host of them were on me," Brady said. "I'm surprised I remember it."

"I didn't know it was him at the time," Nick said. "At home, when we were having supper, and he said, 'Dude, you remember hitting me?' He told me about the exact play, and was like 'Oh, that was you? Yeah, we hit pretty hard.' "

Another twist

Brock Rude says his sons are downright opposite, and that Nick was happy to sit in front of a computer as a kid. So he lit a fire under then-fifth-grade Nick, in an area he knew was flammable.

He took him to the weight room 3 days a week.

"I knew that was one of the few ways I could help him get better," Brock said. "Brady joined right in with us."

Years later, Nick is no longer just a burner. When not flying untouched down the sideline on the gridiron, he was punishing all comers between the tackles.

He admits he's driven in track by a refusal to allow his kid brother to close the gap.

"It gives me some motivation, because I don't want him to catch me and beat me," Nick said.

"I look at his pictures at home of his pictures and his state medals," Brady said. "I wanna be there. I wanna try to live up to what he wants me to be."

Nick admits he's an emotional guy. He's thought about how special it would be to hand the baton to his brother, or vice versa. But the Comets have quite a stable of steeds in the sprints, including Tyler Rockwood, a senior who was a fixture on the relay team last year but saw Brady take his place last weekend because of a tight hamstring.

"What's most important is getting the fastest four on the relay," Nick said. "And if Brady isn't one of the fastest, he'll understand completely. It's about what's important for the team, not what's important for me and Brady."

More motivation

Motivation comes in all shapes and forms. Nick, who won the 60 dash at the de facto indoor state meet Friday, had a very different experience outdoors last May.

Among the favorites in the 100 at the state meet in Charleston, he was disqualified for a false start.

"Ugh," Nick said. "That's actually a lot of motivation for me. It's embarrassing. But I'm better now. It was really heartbreaking at the time. As time passed, I can joke about it now. 

"But it's always in the back of my mind. I don't want to do that again. This is it. If I do that again, it's over at state. I don't have another year."

What he has is a coach in Accardi who refused to let Nick beat himself up. And he put an emphasis on block work.

"I probably wouldn't have won the 60 this past weekend without coach having us work on blocks so much," Nick said.

As for Brady? Well, like Nick said, Brady is Brady.

"I'm just comfortable getting out of the blocks, and I've always had explosion," Brady said.

"It's those big legs," Nick said.

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