Prep Boys Soccer

Bridal's passion for soccer, education and QHS shines through

Ron Bridal, arguably the best goalkeeper in Quincy High School history, gives instructions during a recent practice as he embarks on his first season as the Blue Devils’ head coach. | H-W Photo/Jake Shane
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Aug. 20, 2017 12:01 am

Ron Bridal takes a similar approach to coaching as he does teaching.

He emphasizes a "not yet" mentality. It can't be a "never" mindset.

"I'll tell it to them all the time, ‘We're not doing it yet, but we're going to be doing it,'" he said. "I say that to my players and my students."

The first-year Quincy High School boys soccer coach has introduced some changes to the Blue Devils' attack this fall, namely focusing on getting the ball to the feet of the center forward. It requires checking back to the ball, and Bridal admits it is taking time to learn.

The Blue Devils haven't been as proficient doing that as he would like.

At least not yet.

"That kind of growth mindset is something the kids are embracing," said Bridal, who teaches social studies at QHS. "We need to be doing it a little sooner, but as long as it gets there, that's what we want. We might say ‘not yet,' but we will make it happen."

It's what Bridal has done with his coaching career.

An all-state goalkeeper at QHS who holds school records for shutouts and fewest goals allowed, Bridal could have sought any job other the this one and been a front-runner. Instead, he stayed true to the fact he "bleeds blue" and served as an assistant coach with both the boys and girls programs throughout the past two decades.

When Matt Longo retired last October after a Hall of Fame coaching career, the opportunity Bridal relished opened up.

There was no one better suited for the job.

And there's no one who appreciates the tradition of the program more.

"The expectations aren't going to be much different," said Bridal, a 1995 QHS graduate. "I still expect kids to come to work every day and work as hard as they can. I still expect kids to be committed. Those expectations aren't any different than what we've had in the past."

It's just a different person imploring the Blue Devils to live up to those expectations.

Well, sort of. Bridal was an assistant coach last season and his voice is one the Blue Devils have heard.

"You have to listen to your coach and trust him," senior midfielder Jordan McNay said. "It was nice knowing he had already coached before and that we had a relationship with him."

That has made the transition seamless.

"We're really comfortable around him," senior defender Alex Watson said. "Some of us have had him in class. We see him around school all the time.

"We're very comfortable around him. We're not scared to go up to talk to him about anything."

Yet, they still realize who is in charge.

"We all understood he is the coach, he is the leader and we have to buy into what he says," Watson said. "Everything he says is trying to make the team better."

That's his job now.

The Blue Devils have experienced 13 straight winning seasons and have won 11 of the last 13 Western Big Six Conference championships. Continuing that success is one of Bridal's goals. So is winning a regional title, although in Class 3A, that's no easy task.

It takes a lot of toughness.

"I'm fortunate we have a bunch of tough kids," Bridal said.

The Blue Devils are fortunate to have a coach who openly shares his passion for education, community and soccer with them.

"I bleed blue," Bridal said. "I couldn't be happier to be where I am."

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