Before the start of the 2021-2022 homecoming game, attendees took a moment of silence to reflect on and mourn the life of Christopher Robert Gradoville who was a dear friend to many.
Gradoville died during a shooting on September 30, 2021 at the age of 37. During the homecoming game, economics teacher Matthew Pierson suggested that they light up the baseball field from 6:45-10 pm in his honor.
“For me personally, it meant a lot to me,” head baseball coach Brian Kottich said. “To see it lit up in his memory gave me goose bumps. After hearing the kind words, it was tough to hold tears back. I know it meant a lot to the South Omaha and Creighton community that we did that for him at Bryan High. I received many texts and phone calls about the honor. We have had some discussions about how we would like to honor his legacy here at Bryan in the future.”
While attending Bryan, Gradoville was a standout multi-sport athlete. He was an all-state football and baseball player, basketball player and Shrine Football Game participant in 2002, which was the year he graduated from high school. In 2018, Chris was inducted into the Omaha Public Schools Hall of Fame. After his contribution to Bryan, Gradoville earned a baseball scholarship to Creighton University where he stared as a catcher.
“He was everyone’s best friend,” Kottich said. “He made everyone feel included. If you knew him for five minutes, you felt like you knew him for a life time.”
After graduating from Creighton, he was drafted by the Texas Rangers in the 24th round of the 2007 MLB draft and played four seasons with them before leaving the league. Gradoville was able to make it all the way to Triple A for the Rangers.
“He was a great all-around person,” junior Cole Rickley said. “He loved sports, so we talked about sports when I saw him, and he always was wondering how the Bryan football and basketball team were doing.”
After his baseball career, Gradoville married Nikki Gradoville and they lived in Spokane, Washington until June 2020. When he returned to Omaha to become the Director of Baseball Operations at Creighton. Gradoville was also the owner of Tactical Training Solution, LLC, an initiative that trains first responders in fitness and health.
“Gradoville had planted ideas to help out with all OPS school’s baseball programs,” Kottich said. “He wanted to set up some plans that would assist and encourage baseball players to play in college. He was trying to get his feet planted back in Omaha before taking action on his plan.”