Bridich brings history of success
Loyola baseball coach Nick Bridich shows his players how to fake a bunt during Sunday's practice in Wilmette. | Rob Hart~Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 15, 2013 10:26AM
WILMETTE — De La Salle was one of those teams Danny Rafferty loved to hate to play.
The Loyola senior pitcher and outfielder said it always was a challenge to play the Meteors, who were led in the dugout by Nick Bridich.
“He was one of those coaches that could really get inside an opponent’s head,” said Rafferty, who referenced Bridich’s tendency to have batters show bunt regardless of the count to rattle the pitcher. “I’m glad he’s on my side now.”
After capturing three regional championships in four seasons at the South Side Catholic school, Bridich was hired in the fall to head up the Loyola baseball program after Bill San Hamel resigned.
Rafferty, who’s in his third full varsity season with the Ramblers and plans to play at Bucknell in college, said the players immediately made a connection with Bridich.
“We know it’s not easy for a new coach to come in, but he has the respect of all of us,” said Rafferty, one of 13 seniors on the this season’s roster “Once you talk to him, you know what he’s all about.”
Bridich said one of his main tenets when running a team is fostering a feeling of family. In his short time with the team, Bridich said he believes the Ramblers have become a close-knit club.
“I couldn’t be happier with where we are,” Bridich said. “We’ve grown tremendously as a team. We are in a really good place.”
A Milwaukee native, Bridich played baseball at Marquette High, an all-male Jesuit high school. He then played at Butler, where he was a utility infielder, before graduating and becoming a coach.
Bridich first coached in the college ranks, taking a job at Illinois-Chicago; he was an assistant in charge of defense and base running. Bridich left the Flames for a position at Marist before moving on to De La Salle for the 2009 season.
“We did a nice job (at De La Salle),” said Bridich, whose club won the Chicago White championship last season. “But this was a no-brainer for me. I felt like (coming to Loyola) was coming home for me. It made sense.”
Bridich said Loyola reminds him of Marquette High.
Loyola experienced success under San Hamel, who won three regional titles and a sectional title between 2007 and 2012.
“Loyola is a highly developed program, and the expectations are there to win,” said Bridich, whose team is scheduled to start the season Tuesday at home against Highland Park. “Loyola breeds success, both academically and athletically. The kids know what it means to be successful.”