For several seasons, the Hopkins wrestling team has held the Black & Blue Brawl, an inter-squad scrimmage, to kick off the new season. This year, however, the scrimmage was renamed Bradlee’s Brawl to honor former Blue Jay Bradlee Hillier LaMontagne, who tragically passed away last year.
LaMontagne had been elected as team captain for the 2020-21 season and would have been a senior on this year’s squad. Over his Hopkins career, LaMontagne was named a National Wrestling Coaches Association Scholar All-American and still co-holds the record for most matches in a season with 47. The people closest to LaMontagne know that there was far more to him than his accolades, however.
Junior wrestler Colin Vallis spoke to The News-Letter about how special it was to hold this event for LaMontagne.
“I think the most amazing part of the night was seeing how many people showed up not only for the match but for the dedication,” he said. “It was definitely a testament to how many people Bradlee touched and made connections with during his time here at Hopkins. The energy on the team was a mix of excitement for being back on the mat after so long and emotion as the final touches to the Bradlee Hillier LaMontagne Wrestling Room were completed this week.”
Senior wrestler Joe Paul shared his thoughts on the event in an interview with The News-Letter.
“We wanted to do something that not only would honor Brad this year but also would allow us to continue honoring his legacy for years to come,” Paul said. “There were certainly mixed emotions leading up to the event. On one hand, we were very excited to compete for the first time since before COVID, but at the same time it certainly didn’t feel the same without Brad with us... Overall I think it was a great event — it’s amazing that so many people came out to celebrate Brad’s life and watch us compete.”
While Bradlee’s Brawl culminated in a scrimmage between the blue and black teams, the wrestling felt secondary to the other festivities that night.
Prior to the matches, the team attended a ceremony to showcase the new wrestling room in LaMontagne’s name. Furthermore, the wrestling program has created the Bradlee Hillier LaMontagne Legacy Fund to help fund the team’s equipment needs.
In continuing its support for the Beat the Streets Wrestling Program of Baltimore, the team has donated copies of the book Dino-Wrestling by Lisa Wheeler to 42 Baltimore elementary schools.
For all the new initiatives undertaken, the team knows that more will be done for LaMontagne.
Vallis discussed how commemorating LaMontagne’s memory will go far beyond the one night.
“Every day, we will be walking right under Bradlee’s name as we enter the [wrestling] room. That will be a powerful reminder of Bradlee’s legacy and the four words he lived by: drive, discovery, balance and passion,” he said. “Our warm-ups and singlets will also don a ‘BL: No Quit’ patch all season long. These patches will help remind us to never give up during our most difficult matches and dual meets.”
Paul echoed this sentiment.
“The best way we can honor Bradlee moving forward is to wrestle with the same grit and no-quit attitude that he had,” he said.
The team will travel to Grantham, Pa. for the Messiah Invitational to officially start its season on Nov. 6.