WHEATON – Montini Catholic High School in Lombard announced that its 2021 “Bumber’s Corner Locker” recipient, named after 1989 Montini graduate and football standout Brad Bumber, is senior Bronco Michael Carver of Wheaton.
“Michael truly embodies the everyday character and spirit of Brad Bumber,” Varsity Football Coach Mike Bukovsky, who selected Carver for the honor, stated in a news release. “Like Brad was, Mike is a tough, hard-nosed player, and can always be counted on by his teammates. He is a year-round leader, and one of the hardest workers on the team. He is a perfect choice to carry on Brad’s legacy, with his everyday words and actions, and positive influence on his teammates and the Bronco football program.”
Montini Catholic student Brad Bumber played linebacker for the Broncos from 1985 to 1989. He died Sept. 26, 2015, due to complications from his long battle with cancer. The unique idea to honor a current football player each year with the use of this special locker was the brainchild of Bumber’s teammate, Montini Catholic alumnus Brian Forde (Class of 1989), who wanted to commemorate the memory of his friend. In the summer of 2018, during the renovation of Montini’s locker rooms, he initiated the plan to create Bumber’s Corner Locker.
Carver is the fourth Bronco to receive the honor. The 2020 season honor went to Patrick O’Connor (Class of 2021); in 2019, it went to Patrick Peters (Class of 2020); and in 2018 to Raymond Wojkovich (Class of 2019).
“It’s such an honor to have received this honor,” Carver stated in the release. “I know it means so much to Coach Bukovsky and the Montini football program. To be selected to represent (Brad) as a player, and to have my name forever associated with this award is like a dream come true.”
His parents, Kevin and Barbara Carver of Wheaton, members of Sacred Heart Parish in Lombard, also were thrilled upon hearing the news, the release stated.
“Their faces lit up when they found out that I won the award,” Michael Carver said. “I could tell how proud they were of me for receiving it.”
A plaque has been installed in the locker listing the names of each year’s Bumber’s Corner Locker award recipient.
About Brad Bumber
During and after his time at Montini, Bumber became a living example of the LaSallian Christian Brother educational tradition, both on and off the football field, according to the release.
Thanks to Forde 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 Bumber’s honor.
“Dedicating a football locker in his memory is the best way our class could think of to honor Brad’s memory,” Forde said in the release. “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.
“Brad Bumber was the definition of a blue-collar player,” Forde said. “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 Forde, 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,” Forde said. “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.”
Forde also recalled that Bumber 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,” Forde said.
Teammate Guy DeFeo (class of 1989) agrees about Bumber’s extraordinary demeanor on and off the field.
“He was the ultimate teammate who didn’t need, or want, praise,” DeFeo said. “He made everyone around him better just by his example.”
“Brad really took Coach (Chris) Andriano’s speeches about good sportsmanship to heart,” Forde said. “We were playing Driscoll, whom 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 whom 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.”
One of Bumber’s last wishes was to return to Montini to see one last football game, and spend time with his old friends and coaches. On Sept. 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,” Forde said. “In typical Bumber fashion and against all odds, he showed up.”
Bumber died 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,” Forde said. “In the truest sense possible, Brad lived the principles instilled in us each day while at Montini.”