Former University of Illinois heavyweight wrestler Seth Brady – who faced off against some of the best big men of college wrestling in the 1990s – is now in contention for a new weighty honor: Teacher of the Year in the state of Illinois, BigTen.org announced Monday.
Brady is one of 12 finalists for the Illinois State Board of Education’s 2015 Illinois Teacher of the Year. The 1997 Big Ten Medal of Honor winner for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has been an instructor at Naperville Central High School for the past 11 years. Brady teaches anthropology, comparative religions, and world cultures courses at the school located in Naperville, Ill., a suburb about 30 miles west of Chicago.
“From the very first day I started teaching in District 203 (the Naperville Community Unit School District), I realized this is an extraordinary place to be an educator,” said Brady. “I feel privileged to be a part of a community of students, parents, and staff who care so deeply about the education and welfare of kids. As a finalist for Illinois Teacher of the Year, I feel great pride in the opportunity to represent such outstanding an outstanding school district.”
“This is great news for District 203 and Seth,” said NCUSD Superintendent Dan Bridges. “We’re always honored to have our teachers recognized for their passion and commitment for making a difference in our students’ lives.”
Brady will be among more than 200 educators and school personnel nominated from throughout the state – along with the one individual selected as the Illinois Teacher of the Year – to be honored during the “Those Who Excel” banquet on Saturday, October 25 at the Bloomington-Normal Marriott Hotel and Conference Center in Normal.
Brady’s big competition on the mat
Seth Brady vying for Illinois Teacher of the Year – an honor that dates back to the 1950s – isn’t the former Illini mat star’s only heavyweight competition. The three-time NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships qualifier for the Fighting Illini in the 285-pound weight class wrestled a number of the top heavyweights of his era. Among Brady’s opponents at the NCAAs between 1995 and 1997: University of Minnesota’s Billy Pierce and Shelton Benjamin (who went on to a career in the WWE as a tag team partner to Brock Lesnar), Edinboro’s Pat Schuster, and Ohio State’s Nick Nutter. In addition, Brady took on two eventual collegiate heavyweight champs: University of Nebraska’s Tolly Thompson, and Stephen Neal, two-time champ for Cal State Bakersfield who went on to win a World freestyle title and three Super Bowl rings for the New England Patriots. Brady handed Neal a 3-2 loss in the second round of the 1996 NCAAs.