Montini Catholic High School alumnus, Brian Ford' 89 had the unique idea to commemorate the memory of his late friend and fellow Bronco football teammate, Brad Bumber '89, this past summer. Upon hearing about an opportunity to fund a locker in the Broncos newly renovated locker room, Ford wanted to do something more in remembrance of his beloved teammate. So, he initiated the plan to create 'Bumber's Corner Locker.' Montini Catholic student Brad Bumber '89 played linebacker for the Broncos from 1985 to 1989. He passed away on September 26, 2015 due to complications from his long battle with cancer.
The LaSallian Christian Brother educational tradition is structured to develop the spiritual, intellectual, social and physical development of students. During and after his time at Montini, Brad Bumber became a living example of the LaSallian traditions both on and off the football field, and how those traditions and values positively influence and shape students during and after high school, throughout their entire life.
Thanks to Ford and his former Bronco teammates from the Class of 1989, each year, a Montini Catholic Bronco varsity football player will receive the honor to use the locker in Brad's honor. "Dedicating a football locker in his memory is the best way our class could think of to honor Brad's memory," said Ford. "The player chosen by his coaches to receive 'Bumber's Corner' each year should feel extremely honored to be recognized for demonstrating similar attributes and qualities as Brad, and for the privilege to play Montini Bronco Football under the banner of his name and memory."
This year's honor went to senior (DB/WR) Raymond Wojkovich of Lombard. 'Ray is a 'lunch bucket' type of guy. He is a multiple sport athlete (Football and Baseball) and is a great competitor," said Head Football Coach Mike Bukovsky, who, along with Montini's Varsity Football staff, selected him for the honor. "Despite his modest stature, Ray is a physical player who does whatever it takes for the team, and is the kind of guy that won't back down from anybody. He starts at safety, and also excels on special teams." Coach Bukovsky added, "Ray makes the guys around him better, and has tremendous respect for his teammates, coaches, opponents, and the game in general. He is a Bronco through and through!"
Raymond was very humbled upon hearing the news of the locker. "I was really honored to be selected for the locker, I really didn't expect it," he said. "There are a lot of guys on my team who I think could have also been chosen, but I'm extremely thankful for the nomination. I hope I can be a great advocate for what the locker represents and continue to represent the team and school."
"Brad Bumber was the definition of a blue-collar player," said Ford, remembering his good friend. "He was never the fastest, strongest, or most naturally talented player on the field. Nobody outworked, out hustled or outperformed him and he never gave anything less than 100% -- in the game, or at practice. "
According to Ford, Bumber genuinely loved being on the gridiron, and wanted to make every tackle on every play, but was also the first to congratulate his teammates for making a play. "Brad became our team captain, not only for his performance on the field, but equally because of the positive way he carried himself off the field. Through his daily commitment, work ethic, consistency, and good nature in the locker room, he earned the admiration and respect of his football teammates. He exemplified good sportsmanship, hard work, determination, and the confidence those traits naturally engender. He was a loyal teammate, and a morally grounded friend."
Ford also recalled that Brad would go out of his way to take freshmen players under his wing, encouraged them to work hard, and made them feel a part of the football brotherhood. "He wanted every Bronco who wore the jersey to love the game as much as he did, and for his entire team to succeed, together." Teammate Guy DeFeo '89 agrees about Brad's extraordinary demeanor on and off the field. "He was the ultimate teammate who didn't need, or want, praise. He made everyone around him better just by his example."
"Brad really took Coach (Chris) Andriano's speeches, about good sportsmanship, to heart," remembered Brian Fordj '89. "We were playing Driscoll, who we hated. I mean hated. After every play he would amble over, smile and offer a hand to help the guy to his feet, the opposing ball carrier—who he just knocked into next week. And he did it again and again, with his huge grin. I'm pretty sure the Driscoll guys all thought he was kind of crazy."
For all of these reasons, Brad Bumber was admired and respected among his teammates, coaches, and classmates during his time at Montini. Montini Catholic remained so important to him personally, as well. One of Brad's last wishes was to return to Montini to see one last football game and spend time with his old friends and coaches. On Friday, September 18, 2015, that dream was realized. "At the time, he was in the final stage of a long battle with cancer. He had lost almost 90 pounds, and was in excruciating pain," remembers Brian, "In typical Bumber fashion, and against all odds, he showed up!"
Bumber passed away exactly one week after that final homecoming at the age of 45.
"His natural everyday disposition was truly inspired by the Gospel's golden rule, the traditions of the Catholic Church, and the spiritual teachings of St. John Baptist de La Salle. In the truest sense possible, Brad lived the principles instilled in us each day while at Montini."
"On behalf of Montini Catholic's faculty, staff and student body, I would like to extend a heartfelt congratulations to Raymond and his family," said President Jim Segredo. "May both Brad and Raymond be an example to us all,"