LAURINBURG — Brandon Standridge’s decision to stick around and get his master’s degree at his alma mater, where he won a conference title as a member of the men’s soccer team, has paid off in a way that he couldn’t have ever imagined.
Three weeks ago, after two years as an assistant with the program, Standridge officially signed his contract to become the head coach of the St. Andrews University women’s soccer team. He replaces former coach Aaron Wood.
“Things have truly come full circle to be honest. To be named head coach at the school I went to is pretty special to me, as well as my family and everyone else,” Standridge said. “I’m hoping to bring new, young, fresh ideas to a game that’s been around for years.”
Standridge is a Rockingham native who played four years of soccer at Richmond Senior High School. He competed on the junior varsity level as a freshman and then spent his next three years as a standout on the varsity team, being used at different spots on the field: attacking forward, inside midfielder, outside midfielder.
The former Raider then went on to play for St. Andrews, where he became a defensive player, from 2011-15. During his senior season, he helped lead the Knights to a 16-game winning streak, a conference championship and the second round of the NAIA Nationals.
Standridge was a integral part of that 2014 defensive unit that only allowed 21 goals in 20 games.
“I believe playing multiple positions and learning the game in every single facet — not just playing one position and mastering only that — will help me. I was pretty well-rounded as a player, so I can use that in my coaching philosophy to be successful,” he said.
Standridge says he always knew that he wanted to get into coaching but was never sure on when or where that was going to be. His original plan after finishing up undergrad with a bachelor’s in biology was to attend UNC-Wilmington and study marine biology. Before finalizing the move, however, he was offered the assistant position — which gave him a look into the coaching life and an opportunity to, instead, study business administration in a familiar setting.
“I didn’t plan it to happen this way … but I really liked (coaching as a graduate assistant), so it kind of stuck and grew with me. And I’m always willing to learn and get a different degree so I can better myself,” he explained.
Standridge has hopes of someday making the women’s soccer program into the “powerhouse we were years ago,” but understands that building that kind of consistency takes time. So for right now, he’s focused on recruiting and creating a competitive atmosphere — two things he believes go hand-in-hand.
More girls on the roster leads to more competition on a day-to-day basis, which means the Lady Knights will have no choice but to push one another every time they step on the field. That way, 10-win seasons and conference championships won’t be as hard to come by in the future.
“There’s a plethora of accomplishments of which I want to acheive during my tenure,” he said. “Hopefully I can bring girls in who want to get better every day and work hard for one another and myself. If they do that, I’ll have no complaints.”
Reach sports editor Leon Hargrove Jr. by phone at 910-817-2673 or by email at [email protected] For stories, scores and updates, follow the Daily Journal’s sports section on Twitter @RCDailySports.