CHATHAM, NJ - Timothy Mac Bredahl never thinks about how tall he is when he's on the basketball court for Chatham, except when he's trying to use it to his advantage.
"I've always been the shortest one, so I've gotten used to it," he said. "I've learned how to play and use it to my advantage in weird ways. For example, when I'm dribbling the ball, I'm always closest to the ground and that makes it harder to steal the ball. That helps me weave in and out of guys."
At 5 foot, 6 3/4 inches and 150 pounds, he has filled out a bit since a year ago when he stood 5-5 and weighed even less. The junior guard has grown into a bigger impact player for the Chatham boys basketball team this season, too.
"Obviously, he’s playing really well right now," Chatham coach Todd Ervin said. "He's a competitor. He’s played as good as we expected him to play. His size is never an issue. If you can play, you can play."
The problem for Bredahl last week wasn't his talent, but his physical ability to play. Lower back spasm had kept him out of practice the week leading up to last Saturday's Morris County Tournament semifinal against Randolph. Despite the lingering pain, he scored a game-high 18 points and also grabbed five rebounds in helping Chatham win the game and return to the MCT final for the third straight year.
Mac Bredahl is the Hawk Allstate Chatham Athlete of the Week.
A year ago, Bredahl came off the bench to sink four straight free throws in the final 30 seconds, helping clinch the 2016 MCT Championship over Randolph. He wouldn't mind having the ball in his hands again down the stretch Saturday when the Cougars meet top-seeded Morristown-Beard in the 2017 MCT final.
"Playing in close games is why you practice and why you play these games," Bredahl said. "It gets your adrenaline going to pull out these close games. The bigger the game, the more fun it is. That's what you practice for all year long. I spend a lot of time practicing my foul shots and working on my left hand so that it's as strong as my right."
The thing is, Bredahl isn't just practicing basketball all year long. He's also an outstanding lacrosse player who has given a verbal commitment to Villanova. And his best sport might just be golf, a game he plays all summer at the Fairmount Country Club.
Last June, he was a key offensive player for the Chatham lacrosse team that won the Group 2 state championship. The attackman finished with 49 goals and 56 assists, including two goals and two assists in a 4-2 win over Manasquan for the state title.
One of his "short" moves on the lacrosse field is to shoot as he's falling to the ground, making it near impossible to block.
"Half my assists were easy on me and tougher for the guys scoring them like Austin Pierce," Bredahl said of the lacrosse season. "Again, I used my height to may advantage. It's harder for someone 6-2 to try and hit me in lacrosse because they're going to wind up hitting me in the head and getting a penalty. My whole life I've been small. I don't care what someone thinks. It hasn't really stopped me in sports from doing anything I want to do."
Bredahl already has enough trophies and championships to prove his point. Two years ago, he and his basketball teammate, Chris Conlin, were ranked No. 1 nationally in their age group in paddle tennis; over the summer he won the New Jersey Junior PGA Championship held at Fiddler's Elbow, shooting a one-under-par 70, and has carded a 72 at Fairmount. He also won junior tennis tournaments before he had to give it up to play lacrosse.
"I feel the most pressure when I'm playing golf," Bredahl said. "In basketball and lacrosse, I count on my teammates. In golf, it's more of a mental game. It's hard not to think about a bad shot. I just try to put it behind me and move on."
Bredahl gets his genes from both sides of an athletic family. He inherited his nickname from his grandmother, Maryann Carsten, who also went by the name of "Mac." His father, Steve, played lacrosse for the University of Delaware.
"His grandmother was a paddle pro and a phenomenal athlete," Mac's mother, Andrea, said.
Andrea Bredahl likes to tell the story about the reaction of the workers to her two sons during a renovation of their home.
"They kept watching Mac and his brother (Chris)," she said. "One minute they're over there playing basketball, they look out and then they're throwing around a football, then they'd be golfing around the house. The final straw was when they had this little RV thing and they were running around the house on the RV. They were always doing something.
"He's one determined, focused kid. He really is."
The one regret for coach Ervin, who also is the Chatham golf coach, is that he couldn't convince Bredahl to give up lacrosse and play golf for the Cougars.
"The sport I like best is the season I'm in," Bredahl said. "The sport I'm playing is the one I enjoy the most."
Mac Bredahl scores with two seconds left to give Chatham the winning points in 48-47 win over Morristown on Jan. 31
Editor's note: The Hawk Allstate Chatham Athlete of the Week is sponsored by the John Hawk Agency. John and his team have been protecting local families and business owners for over 12 years. Call them at 973-635-9494 for a new auto, home, life and business insurance quote this week and if you mention the Hawk Allstate Chatham Athlete of the Week they will make a $20 contribution to the Chatham Booster Club! To learn more, visit the agency website.