Smithfield: Sports

August 8, 2014

South Johnston softball coach Mickey Bridgers retires.

South Johnston’s Mickey Bridgers has retired after more than 40 years as a coach and athletic director.

Mickey Bridgers had a huge impact on high school athletes and coaches, according to South Johnston High athletic director Keith Durham.

Bridgers announced this week that he is retiring after more than 40 years as a coach and athletic director.

Bridgers coached football and softball at South Johnston and Northern Nash and was the AD at South Johnston.

His softball teams won close to 300 games, including more than 150 at South Johnston. His 1987 Northern Nash club won the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A championship and his teams at South Johnston reached the state championship series twice.

But Durham said won-loss records and titles were a by product of what Bridgers did.

“There is no way to judge the impact Mickey had,” Durham said. “He not only mentored so many boys and girls, he also mentored coaches, including me. His influence keeps growing and growing as the things that he taught us are being taught to a new generation.”

Big boys: Kurt Glendenning, who is entering his second year as head football coach at Cary High, is not a big guy, but he is surrounded by big players.

The Imps, 4-7 in 2013, have four players near 300 pounds and about 20 players who are 240 pounds or more.

On a team full of heavies, no one is bigger than defensive tackle/tight end Anthony Rush (6-foot-5, 300 pounds). He had an interception for a touchdown last year and was the team’s second-leading receiver with 96 yards.

Cary offensive coordinator Dave Potter plans to go to a double-wing offense and pound ahead behind a wall of blockers.

“If you have more heavies and more momentum, then you’re going to be able to get downfield,” Glendenning said.

Helped by the net: New Broughton girls’ volleyball coach Jim Freeman, who won 10 state titles at Cardinal Gibbons and who later coached at Barton College, said volleyball continues to grow in popularity and play is improving consistently.

Gibbons has won 14 state titles in the last 16 years and Wakefield, Person, Durham Riverside, Greenville Rose and Chapel Hill have won state championships in the last dozen years.

“A lot more girls are playing now,” Freeman said. “Volleyball is a fun game to play and it creates a really strong sense of team.

“I think the net has a lot to do with the team building. Your team stays over there and our team stays over here. You don’t have that in basketball and a lot of other sports.”

Swimming standouts: Three area swimmers were the tops in their age groups in their events during the USA Swimming Junior Nationals last week, according to the website

Cary High’s Justin Ress was the top 16-year-old in the 200-meter backstroke and 200 individual medley. Cary Academy’s Adam Linker was the top 18-year-old in the 1,500 free and Leesville Middle’s Ashley McCauley was the top 13-year-old in the 400 IM and 200 breaststroke.

All three swim for the Marlins of Raleigh swim club.

J. Mike Blake contributed to this story

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