ELMA — A familiar name, in more ways than one, will be returning to Elma this fall.
Todd Bridge, the son of longtime Elma administrator Steve Bridge, will move from the coast to East County to take over as athletic director at Elma High School. Paul Gaskins resigned as athletic director after two years once the school year finished several weeks ago.
Bridge had spent the last 12 years as a teacher, vice principal, athletic director and football and track coach at North Beach High School in Oyehut. With his new assignment in Elma, Bridge has resigned after six seasons as the Hyaks varsity head football coach.
“This was a family decision with career changes on the horizon,” Bridge said. “There are some kids in North Beach I will miss and I’m going to help some of them out in the spring, especially those continuing the shot put run we’ve had there.”
This isn’t Bridge’s first stop as an athletic director. Bridge helped out at North Beach and was Hoquiam’s athletic director for three years (2002-05) before he stepped away to go to North Beach. He is also a legacy pick for the Eagles — his father, Steve, was a beloved athletic director and teacher at Elma for many years before retiring in 2011.
“What I keep on hearing from coaches, administration and the community is they don’t want to have a manager, they want a leader,” Bridge said. “I’m adept at leading young men and women, but less experienced with adults. I have to learn a new approach to doing that. I have some good mentors to bounce things off of. I’ve talked with (Elma superintendent) Kevin Acuff already, plus my Dad. I feel from these conversations is they want that ‘Blue Pride’ back, people want to be proud of wearing the Columbia Blue at home and on the road.”
Bridge also noted he has heard from the Elma community on the status of Davis Field and the new stadium proposals. “We have to come back as a team with a proposal that the community wants,” he added.
What is Elma’s gain is also North Beach’s loss. Bridge leaves a Hyaks football program that was a postseason team five of the six years he was the head coach, along with his coaches Hugh Wyatt and James Vogler. The Hyaks won two Pacific 2B League titles and advanced to the state 2B quarterfinals in 2014 under Bridge.
“The success at North Beach came from a group of kids, 39 of them, who all bought in,” Bridge said. “Originally, it was blind faith on what the coaches were telling them. They believed and they achieved great success there.”