Longtime contributor Mike Bratton to be inducted into Nevada Union Athletics Hall of Fame
Editor’s note: This is the eighth installment of a 17-part series chronicling the 2018 Nevada Union Athletics Hall of Fame inductees. Check back to The Union sports pages each day for a new profile on a Nevada Union legend.
Mike Bratton didn’t attend Nevada Union High School. He never scored a touchdown in Hooper Stadium, hit the game-winning home run at Ted White Field or dunked a basketball in Albert Ali Gymnasium.
But he is as much a Miner as anyone who did, and he is being honored as such.
Bratton will be inducted into the Nevada Union Athletics Hall of Fame April 28 for his continuous commitment to the betterment of the school and its athletic programs over the past 20-plus years.
“Mike is really one of the pillars of support and leadership for the Nevada Union football program and for the entire community,” former Nevada Union football head coach Dave Humphers said. “The time and support that he has given is remarkable. He’s been a tremendous friend, I have so much respect and love for that man.”
The way Bratton sees it, “If you can help enough other people get what they want, you’re going to get what you want.”
What Bratton wants, and strives for, is a flourishing community in which young people can thrive.
Bratton grew up in Lincoln, where he played quarterback and defensive back on the high school football team.
As a young man in 1977, he made his way to Nevada County and quickly fell in love with the community and the Miners football team.
Bratton set up his State Farm Insurance Agency in 1984 and became a fixture in the community. When his oldest son, Michael, began to make his way through the Nevada Union football program, Bratton was asked to head the football team’s booster club. He accepted and took it to a level never before seen at the school.
“He took a high functioning booster club and made it what every sport and every school wanted in a booster club,” Nevada Union athletic director Jeff Dellis said. “He was a big picture guy. He made it a high functioning business model that was the envy of all other sports, and frankly the envy of all other schools in Northern California.”
As president of the Nevada Union Football Booster Club, Bratton did impressive things both big and small in his furtherance of the program. He developed major fundraisers such as the yearly Christmas tree lot, he hosted team dinners, he would sell 50-50 raffle tickets in the stands and he’d even round up root beer floats for the team on short notice.
“We built a pretty darn good organization,” Bratton said. “It was about bringing in good people that had the same desire to see the program succeed, and we had a great group of people. Our boosters booth was making money, we had raffles that were making money. We accomplished a lot, with a lot of people, and there was a lot of excitement during that time.”
Bratton served as the football team’s booster club president for 10 years, doing what he considered his part as his three sons all made their way through the program.
His commitment to Nevada Union didn’t stop when his time as president did. Bratton, along with 2017 Nevada Union Athletic Hall of Fame inductee Kevin Casey, spearheaded the effort to bring synthetic turf to Hooper Stadium for the first time more than a decade ago. A project that was fully funded through community donations.
To this day, Bratton remains involved with Nevada Union athletics, sponsoring several sports teams and pitching in whatever he can when called upon.
Bratton, along with his family, also founded the Michael Bratton II Turkey Trot, an annual 5K/10K event that honors his son Michael, who died in 2006. Since the race’s inception 12 years ago it has grown into one of the biggest annual athletic events in Nevada County and has raised more than $350,000 for local nonprofits including Anew Day, which is a faith-based organization that provides healing and hope through lay counseling for those who are hurting. A portion of the proceeds from the event also go to Nevada Union Athletics.
Even though his children have long since graduated from Nevada Union, Bratton said he still finds his way to Hooper Stadium to take in football games. He added he’s also enjoying the opportunity to coach his grandchildren in tee ball.
Bratton expressed gratitude for his wife, Robin, for all of her effort and support throughout the years.
Bratton added that he is honored to be inducted into the Nevada Union Athletics Hall of Fame.
“I feel like I’m a Miner,” he said. “I feel like I’m part of something big and good.”
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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With a balanced offensive attack and a strong defensive effort, the Nevada Union football team went on the road Friday night and knocked off Napa, 33-14.