Bridges leaves Water Valley to take over at St. Martin

Published 12:00 pm Tuesday, May 24, 2016

A friend ended up being Kary Bridges’ connection to an opportunity he said was ultimately too good to pass up.

Now Water Valley is looking for a new baseball coach.

Bridges, who’s coached the Blue Devils for the last six seasons, is leaving to take the same position at St. Martin, a Class 6A school in Ocean Springs. Bridges’ hire at St. Martin is pending approval from the school board next month.

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The Sun Herald first reported the news.

“We had some mutual interest between a friend of mine that sort of pieced it all together,” Bridges said in a phone interview Monday. “I called (St. Martin athletic director Jesse Kanode) and he seemed interested in speaking with me, and I was interested in seeing what their program offered.”

Bridges told the administration at Water Valley of the news Monday morning before breaking it to his players later in the day. During what Bridges described as an “emotional” meeting, he said it wasn’t easy to tell the players he’s seen come up through his program for the last six years that he was leaving.

“Part of what I told them today was that I thank them because without their hard work and without their dedication to playing the game the right way, we wouldn’t have been as successful and I might not have gotten that opportunity,” Bridges said. “This opportunity comes from the players at Water Valley as much as anything else.”

Weighing the pros and cons of a potential move, Bridges said the school district and the people he’d be working with were too big of a draw.

“Every question that I had kept being answered in a positive manner,” Bridges said. “Any time you thought there might be a negative — not in their program but in the move or a negative in my leaving — it kept turning into a positive. It boiled down to a situation where it’s a great opportunity in a great school district, and it was the right time I think.”

Bridges, who played at Ole Miss in early 1990s before enjoying a 10-year professional career, led the Blue Devils to the MHSAA Class 3A playoffs each of his six seasons at the helm. Water Valley advanced to the second round this season before being ousted by Nettleton, finishing 24-9.

Bridges said his successor will inherit a core of young talent that should keep the Blue Devils’ winning ways going.

“We did graduate some seniors, but we played some young guys and some very young guys got some significant playing time,” Bridges said. “The nucleus is there to continue to be successful.”