Well-rounded Maine South lacrosse player a deserving award winner
Chris Bridich is a young man of few words. Some of his most popular are "improving" and "hard work."
There's a direct correlation between that vocabulary and his winning the New Wave Lacrosse program's top honor given to a boy, the Man Up Award, which the Maine South High School senior earned last week for his play over the summer.
The award recognizes not just skill at lacrosse, where had COVID-19 not wiped out 2020 spring prep sports Bridich would be entering his third straight season as a starting varsity defenseman at Maine South.
It's an award that honors a slew of intangibles such as leadership, character, respect, integrity, future prospects and the like. New Wave Lacrosse coaches and staff select the recipient.
"I'm appreciative of it, especially since this is the highest award they give out," said Bridich, named New Wave's most improved player last fall and the also defensive most valuable player this summer while playing for the club's top team.
"I'm close to all the coaches; it means a lot to receive an award like this from them," he said.
Despite the pandemic, Bridich has visited Midwestern colleges to get a better idea of where he'd like to play at the next level.
"I think I've improved a lot over the past couple years, lacrosse-wise, and I've improved as a person as well," said the prospective college business major. "I've gained more leadership qualities and have become more respectful, kind of set my goals straight. I know what I'm working for and I know what I'm looking to do in college and in the future as well."
Bridich is a graduate of a different type of school of hard knocks -- those delivered playing pickup football and basketball with two "very competitive" brothers. Nick Bridich is at Carroll University in Wisconsin; Alex is a junior at Maine South.
A former volleyball player who liked contact sports, Chris Bridich converted to lacrosse in seventh-grade. Once "chubby," he worked off his baby fat lifting weights and running on his own. He now goes 6-foot-1, 190 pounds.
"He's a very strong kid -- a big, strong kid. He's in the weight room a lot," said Maine South lacrosse coach Cam Staffel.
"He follows all the coaching directions; he's a pretty good leader with the other kids. He loves the sport and loves being part of the group and the team. He's an awesome kid. Everything is exactly what you want as a model kid for the program. Character-wise he's perfect; he's got really, really good grades," Staffel said.
With the Hawks having begun their 20 contact days this fall as directed by the Illinois High School Association, Bridich is focused on "improving all aspects of my game." He's wisely stressing fundamentals such as footwork and positioning.
The senior, who volunteers at Center of Concern in Des Plaines -- a nonprofit that helps the homebound elderly, poor and homeless -- seeks to take on more leadership with Maine South while continuing to balance athletics and academics in preparation for his college career.
Asked what he gets out of lacrosse, his answer is no surprise.
"I learn a lot about hard work," he said. "You've got to work hard to achieve what you want to do."