NMSU branding

New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

News Center

Search News Center Articles

NMSU volleyball player's Native American roots support athletic success

Some may think life is very different for people living on an Indian reservation, but New Mexico State University junior Bradley Nash believes the Native American lifestyle is very similar to most American families.

Head and shoulders shot of Bradley Nash
Bradley Nash, NMSU junior biochemistry major, is a popular NMSU volleyball player and a well-known role model for children in the Navajo Nation. (NMSU photo by Darren Phillips)
Bradley Nash on volleyball court
Bradley Nash, outside hitter on NMSU's volleyball team, passes the ball in the championship match of the 2012 WAC Tournament (NMSU photo by Eddie Morelos)

"Coming off the reservation wasn't a big shock because growing up we traveled a lot," Nash said. "I have never dealt with discrimination of any kind. I have always felt accepted anywhere I've gone."

Nash, an outside hitter for the NMSU volleyball team, grew up in Kayenta, Ariz., which is part of the Navajo Nation.

The Navajo Nation covers 27,425 square miles and occupies portions of northeastern Arizona, southeastern Utah, and northwestern New Mexico. Nash's mother spent her entire life there and her grandfather owned a trading post on the reservation.

Although she grew up in a town of just over 5,000 people, Nash played in front of thousands of people.

Her mother, Lucinda Nash, was the volleyball head coach for Monument Valley High School in northeast Arizona.

A biochemistry major in the College of Arts and Sciences, Nash helped her mom guide the Lady Mustangs to four state championships while also marking a 40-0 record in 2010. During that period, Bradley was a two-time 3A North Player of the Year, and named to the Arizona Republic All-State team.

"I was pretty much born into it," Nash said about volleyball. "All my siblings played sports, and my mom told me to learn from them so I really looked up to them growing up."

The veteran player returns home periodically to see her family and friends, but she also gives back to her community, teaching younger children the basics of volleyball.

"It's a lot of fun, because a lot of the kids seem to still remember me," Nash said. "It's humbling. It is motivating to see the kids get excited to learn about volleyball."

Nash stood out to the Aggie coaching staff when she was a freshman in high school and head coach Mike Jordan describes her as a breath of fresh air and a complete team player.

"Bradley is really easy to coach and she is the kind of person that loves to give back and is great with kids," Jordan said. "There has always been a real interest in the backgrounds of all of our players, but you can sense that Bradley stands out because a lot of kids know who she is."

Jordan says Nash's popularity has helped NMSU become more known around the region. He is hopeful that she can pick up where she left off after playing in 98 sets and marking 118 kills during the 2012 WAC Championship season.

"It was really cool to see how many people were following and supporting our team," Nash said. "There were people that I have never met that were very vocal online about our team and it is cool to see that continue to grow."

She says she is still exploring her options as she still has three years of eligibility at NMSU. Nash received an extra year of eligibility after she suffered a season-ending knee injury in the third set of a match against No. 5 Nebraska on Aug. 26, 2011.

"The college game is so much different than high school," Nash said. "But I consider myself lucky because I learned so much just by watching during that season. I am fine now and feel normal."

She played with a knee-brace all of last season but has worked extremely hard to recover as efficiently as possible. She credits her recovery to athletic trainer Kim Herbert who put her through intense workouts week after week.

Nash and the rest of the Aggies volleyball team start practice on Aug. 10 before warming up for the season with the Annual Alumni Match, Aug. 24 at 5 p.m. (MT) in the Pan American Center.

"I hope to help the rest of the team anyway I can," Nash said. "We want to move further than we did last year. We want to get deeper into the (WAC) tournament."