HEBER SPRINGS — A new face will be in the Heber Springs Panthers’ dugout next spring. Ryan Bridges was confirmed by the Heber Springs school board earlier this month.
Bridges said he was not expecting to get the job. “I took the interview for experience. Not many places hire someone without any head coaching experience.
This will be Bridges first head baseball coaching job. He has worked at Malvern, El Dorado, and White Hall. Bridges left White Hall to come coach the Panthers.
Bridges graduated from Sheridan in 2009. He played junior college baseball for two years and then transferred to Henderson State to play two more years.
Bridges is also set to help with the Panthers’ football program as he will be the defensive line coach.
Bridges is wanting a culture change at Heber Springs. He said “I want to get workouts rolling for the kids that are baseball only. They are doing nothing unless they are doing them on their own. I like individual work a lot. I think that’s key.”
Bridges is also planning on participating in Sunday Night Lights. This give athletes the chance to get practice in during the fall.
“I know they have had a handful of coaches over the past few years, and that’s never good on the kids.
“From what I’ve seen and what we’ve heard it’s a great town and community,” Bridges said. “We are excited to get up there, everything has been so positive. It’s a small town community. “
Bridges said he is excited about the talent that the Panthers have. “The young talent is going to be solid. The upperclassmen have some talent too. I am not against playing young if I have to. I would like to give the upperclassmen the first opportunity, but you can get something rolling with the young guys.” He added “I heard if you work with them and show them respect, they will run through a wall for you. The first kid I met asked me ‘when do offseason workouts start.’ That was a good first impression.”
Bridges said feels pressure to perform well, but just from himself. His goal for the 2022 season is to make a regional. He said “if you make regionals, you’re only one game from making the state tournament and anything can happen.”
Bridges is currently working on selling his house and moving to Heber Springs. He said the team will get to work after the Arkansas Activities Association dead period is over with on July 11th.