After putting in four years of work with the Hillsboro soccer program, Andrew Bridges will be taking his talents to Mineral Area College next academic year. Bridges helped the Hawks to conference, district and sectional titles in 2019, scoring two goals and one assist. But it was his leadership skills on the back end that helped Hillsboro to a 19-6-1 record last fall. With this lull in the sports season, Ameritime Sports thought it would be a good idea to talk with Andrew about his future.
Q: Why MAC? Why did you end up choosing to further your career there?
Bridges: “I chose MAC because I loved the campus, and I felt like they had a lot to offer me academically. Also Coach Martin, the men’s soccer coach, laid out their goals for the upcoming season, and it matched with goals that I wanted to accomplish. I feel I could learn a lot playing for him, so that is what made me choose MAC.”
Q: What other schools did you consider?
Bridges: “I toured Hannibal-LeGrange, MacMurray, and Fontbonne. They were all great schools, but Mineral Area felt like the right choice for me.”
Q: Would you like to continue to play after you’re finished at MAC?
Bridges: “If I am able to, and the opportunity is there, I would love to continue playing at a four-year after MAC. I would like to take another look at Fontbonne as they were my second choice, and I will look at any other schools that feel like they would want to have me on their team.”
Q: How did you get your start in soccer? Was it always a dream of yours to play college ball, and when did you think it was a realistic possibility?
Bridges: “I started to play soccer when I was young, probably around first grade. Back then I was just playing because I loved to play, but then the goal became making the varsity team in high school. Once I was lucky enough to do that, I realized that I could play in college, and that is what I began to put my effort towards. It started to feel real around my junior year when the colleges started to reach out, saying they saw me play and would like to talk and have me on campus.”
Q: Did you participate in other sports over the years? Was there a reason you exclusively stuck with soccer?
Bridges: “I ran track my freshman year, but it coincided with my club soccer season which demands a lot of my free time, so that was hard to keep doing. I did martial arts when I was younger, but I found that I enjoyed playing soccer more than anything, and that it was what I wanted to dedicate all my free time and effort towards.”
Q: Who have been your biggest influences in the game, either directly or indirectly?
Bridges: “I could talk all day about the people who have influenced the game for me. Obviously, I have the famous athletes I look up to like Messi and Carlos Puyol. But my parents were always my biggest supporters and critics, and I got so much better because of it. They would tell me when I played good, and be the first to tell me when I had a bad game, and I believe I am better off because of that. I am also lucky to have played for some great coaches. Kyle Magee was my coach up until my freshman year, and he taught me to value the game and taught me a lot on and off the field. We still communicate to this day. My current club coach, Pat Weir, has taught me so much about being a defender, and my game has improved greatly since playing for him. And, obviously, Coach Schacht and Coach Nansel at Hillsboro helped turn me into a leader and a player who can take control of a team. I have also been surrounded by some great players. A few that stick out to me are Mark Moore, Mitchell Hickson, and Kyle Warren. Mark and I would go at it in practice each pushing each other to perform at our best, and Mitchell and Kyle have been great teammates for me over the past four years of playing in high school.”
Q: What is the one memory from your Hillsboro career that stands out the most for you, and why?
Bridges: “There’s a lot of memories that stick out to me about my high school soccer career. A few are winning districts my freshman year, and all the times spent with my teammates. But this year, as a whole, is my favorite memory. What our team was able to do was great, winning districts and sectionals. Going to the quarterfinals and having the stands full for a soccer game, which isn’t very common, it was just great to be a part of. I am very proud to have captained such a great group of guys and say I was a part of that.”
Q: When soccer is over, what do you think we’ll see Andrew Bridges doing with his life?
Bridges: “I am unsure what I want to do in my life. I have a few career choices narrowed down and plan to pursue those at Mineral Area, but I know I want to stay involved with the game of soccer. Eventually, I want to coach a team and teach players all the lessons I have been taught over my career.”
Q: Finally, for all those little ones who have dreams to do what you’re doing, what’s the best advice that you could give them?
Bridges: “For anyone who wants to do this, obviously school is the most important thing to focus on, because school is what is going to ultimately allow you to keep playing your sport. Also, when we got to the post season this past year, we kept telling the team to stay hungry…we still have to want it. So my main advice is to stay hungry and keep working so you can achieve your goals.”
Thank you Andrew. Good luck to you next year and thank you for the highlights you gave us with the Hawks.