Spring-Ford’s Bruce Brobst, the varsity baseball coach coming off his 12th season at the helm, won’t have his coaching contract renewed next year after coming off a 19-7 overall season where the Rams advanced to the District 1-AAAA playoffs and just missed a PIAA-AAAA playoff berth.
“The administration told me that they wanted to go in a different direction,” said Brobst during a recent phone interview with The Mercury. “It hurts ... but I’ve got to respect their decision.
“All that aside, it’ll certainly be hard for me to step away from this program.”
Brobst leaves the Rams after compiling a career 189-96 overall record. In that time, the Rams have captured two Pioneer Athletic Conference titles (2011, 2015), one district title (2011) and have qualified for the state tournament three times, taking silver twice (2008, 2011).
It’s a decision that Brobst says wouldn’t change the way he’s coached well over the past decade.
“Obviously, not everyone will agree with all of the decisions you make as a head coach,” said Brobst. “That’s given. You face that all the time. Personally, I can walk away from it saying that I did what I thought was best for the team and for the players.”
Though he is no longer calling the shots for the baseball team, Brobst will continue to teach in the health & physical education department for the school district.
An educator in the district for the past 30 years, Brobst also served seven years as an athletic trainer before spending 10 years as the ninth grade baseball coach.
Just one season removed from hoisting the PAC-10 championship plaque in 2015, the Rams couldn’t string together back-to-back appearances this past season. After graduating 10 key players and returning just two starters from that title team, Brobst and the Rams advanced to this year’s Final Four, where they suffered a 2-0 loss to Perkiomen Valley in the opening round.
After opening the district playoffs with two convincing wins over Haverford and Central Bucks South, the Rams fell to Downingtown West in the quarterfinal round and eventually lost to Marple Newtown in the fifth-place game with a state playoff berth on the line.
“We were that close to playing in states again,” said Brobst. “The team came a long way from where we started in the beginning of the season. From the get-go, our mentality was to constantly get better as a unit. We did that. As the season wore on, we were able to win a lot of ball games.”
Throughout his tenure at Spring-Ford, Brobst penned several unforgettable names onto the Rams’ lineup card.
“I had the pleasure of coaching some tremendous ball players over the years,” said Brobst. “Guys like James Hoff, Ricky Gorrell, Cody and Bret Clarke, Connor Klemann, Oz (Mike Oczypok), Conor Larkin, his older brothers Sean and Dan — to name a few. They all understood the team concept of the game. They were talented players and made a lot of great memories for me.”
Now as he takes a step back from coaching at the high school level for the first time in more than two decades, Brobst admits he’s at a bit of a crossroads.
Does he have it in him to sport another team’s uniform in the future?
“I’m waiting to see how I go through all of this,” said Brobst. “Is the drive for me to start fresh somewhere? Honestly, I don’t know. The thing about coaching is that it takes up so much of your time ... it requires so much commitment. It’s so much more than just showing up to practice and playing games.”
After such a long stint with the Rams, it’s been a while since Brobst has needed to start at ground zero.
“I love the game, I love coaching the game,” he added, “but it will certainly take time for me to decide whether or not I still want to pursue coaching again. At this moment, it would be really hard for me to picture starting new somewhere.”
Similar to a quote he’d tell his players after a loss, Brobst may consider his own advice moving forward with his coaching career.
“You learn a lot of life lessons from the game of baseball,” he said. “Like I always told our players ‘When you get knocked down, you’ve got one of two choices — You can either lay down on the side of the road or you can get back up and try again.’
“That’s what you’ve gotta do. You’ve gotta get up and try again.”