The boys soccer team will enter the fall of 2014 with similar state championship aspirations as the last few years. The Bruins return with a lot of young talent and look poised for another playoff run.
One person who won’t be returning, however, is the man that led the team deep into the post-season for the past two years. Bruin coach Alex Nichols resigned from his position, and RBHS wasted little time in promoting the former assistant coach Scott Wittenborn to the newly available job.
Wittenborn played soccer collegiately at the University of Missouri–St.Louis and Bradley University and has been the RBHS junior varsity coach for the past two seasons. This will be his first head coaching job after working as an assistant under Nichols for a couple of years. Wittenborn said he is looking forward to his enhanced role.
“Rock Bridge is an attractive job for multiple reasons,” Wittenborn said. “You first have to look at the tradition of excellence RBHS has established over the years. Much of that success is attributed to the fact that Rock Bridge is able to bring in quality players year in and year out thanks to Columbia’s excellent club soccer programs. The success that this has allowed the program to have, especially recently, has really brought Rock Bridge up to the status of a top rate soccer program in the state. The soccer team plays a very competitive schedule and, I believe, has a legitimate chance to win state every single year.”
Wittenborn isn’t the only one looking forward to taking over the head coaching role. Many Bruin players are also excited about the hiring, citing their time with Wittenborn on junior varsity as a big reason why he will be a good fit for the new position.
“I’m definitely interested to see how Coach Wittenborn will step up to the plate and what changes, if any, he will make to our play,” junior Nicky Baird said. “I don’t expect it to be anything too different from last year because of the fact that he helped assistant coach in many of the varsity games, and he got to know most of us while we were on JV with him. So I’m definitely excited for the upcoming season and what it has in store with him as coach.”
Other players share their excitement for the hire. Having spent time with Wittenborn throughout the JV program, they feel connected to their new coach already and are ecstatic for the transition, yet interested to see what differences in coaching style the switch will bring.
“I’m more interested in what changes he’s going to have tactically for the team,” junior Connor Blitz said. “I played JV for him one year and had him as a coach so it won’t be anything new. I know how he wants us to play, so I feel confident about him as a coach.”
Wittenborn emphasized that while there will be a new coach, goals and the expectation of winning championships will be no different under his watch than they were with his predecessor at the helm.
“The past several seasons have really come down to one or two breaks just barely not going our way,” Wittenborn said. “I hope to continue to work on what has made Rock Bridge so successful. It all starts with the guys making sure to get lots of touches and really hit the weights and conditioning hard in the off-season. Once we get into the season, it is important that we maintain our team’s toughness, hard work and passion for winning. If these guys work as hard year-round as the players that have come before them did, they have a very good chance of bringing home Rock Bridge’s first state title.”
By Josh Ripley