Jason Ridge has been named as the new University of Saint Francis women’s basketball coach by USF Athletic Director Mike McCaffrey on Monday.
“I am very pleased to announce the selection of Jason Ridge as our next women’s basketball coach,” McCaffrey said. “During this process it became clear to our entire search committee who was the right fit for our university, and for our women’s basketball program at this time. Jason is a man of high integrity, character and has shown an ability to guide young student-athletes to extraordinary things.”
“Some of the strongest endorsements that Coach Ridge received during this process came from the men’s basketball team members,” McCaffrey added. “They couldn’t tell us enough great things about Jason and what he brought to their team in his time with them. The men’s team will miss him, but the women’s team is going to benefit from his knowledge and expertise now.”
Ridge, 39, becomes the 14th coach in the 41-year history of the program. He was a volunteer assistant with the USF men’s basketball program in 2014-15 and has been an assistant principal at Whitko High School the last three years. Obviously, he is excited about continuing the tradition of excellence as USF women’s basketball coach.
“I am incredibly excited for the opportunity to be the next Women’s Head Coach at the University of Saint Francis,” Ridge said. “I feel honored to be in this position because I have great respect for the tradition of the program and the integrity of the university. I hope to come in and maintain the success that has happened before me and to add my own chapter to the legacy.”
“After spending a year with the men’s program, I feel like I’ve seen a program function at a high level by doing things the right way,” Ridge continued. “I hope to bring many of the things that made us successful to the women’s program. Player relationships, an emphasis on academics and the overall development of our players is going to be an area of focus. I’ve had the chance to meet most of the players and I have been impressed with what I have seen. I think they want to work at the game and want to be a part of something special. I think we share a common goal in wanting to win championships and that is a good place to start. We are going to go through a transition period with changing of coaches but I think before the season ends that we have a chance to be a really good team.”
The Lady Cougars finished 25-10 in 2014-15 in their 14th season under Gary Andrews advancing to the NAIA Championship Elite Eight for the 11th time in the last 19 seasons. USF lost to eventual 2015 champion Morningside and was ranked No. 9 in the final poll for the 2014-15 season. Ridge welcomes back six players who played in the 2014 NAIA Championship Game that clinched USF’s first women’s national championship with a 38-0 record including 2015 NAIA first-team All-America Akyah Taylor and two-time NAIA All-America Brooke Ridley (1st team 2014; 3rd team 2015).
“He has a lot of new ideas he’s going to put in play and I think everybody is excited to see what’s in store for the upcoming season,” Ridley said after the media conference introducing Ridge on late Monday morning at Hutzell Athletic Center. “We’ve all got to work together this off-season getting to know coach Ridge, his style of play and how we all fit in, what our role will be. I think he likes an up-tempo offense, press the whole game. We’ve got to be in shape early.”
McCaffrey noted in his introduction for Ridge, “we had a great field of candidates for the job, but as it turned out in going through the process we had the man for the job right under our noses.”
Photo Courtesy Bill ScottTagged with: Jason Ridge NAIA Saint Francis (IN)