With three kids and another on the way, Allen Brydges had to choose between two things he loved: He could keep coaching the Academy Park program he’d built up over the last half-decade, or he could coach his two oldest kids, seven-year-old Allen Jr. and five-year-old Brian, on the basketball court.
In the end, family won out.
Brydges stepped down at the helm of the Knights recently after five seasons. He helped the Knights end a lengthy drought by making the District One playoffs three years ago. He pushed the Knights into the PIAA tournament last season.
“My boys are seven and five now, and I’m coaching them,” Brydges said. “It’s getting to the stage where they have games during the week, and I want to be there for them. That’s the biggest part of it.”
Brydges, who spent eight seasons as an assistant to Bob Miller at Upper Darby, recently took a lead teacher job in the Upper Darby School District that demands more of his time, which factored into his decision. The effort to turn around the AP program requires a lot of the his attention, and he didn’t want to approach either of his three jobs halfway.
“If I was going to do it, I have to do it right, which means 12 months a year, all the time,” Brydges said. “I can’t put some of it on my assistants or things like that. You can’t do it halfway.”
The Knights’ success last season makes leaving more difficult. AP went 20-8, finishing in ninth place in District One and losing to PIAA Class AAAA champion Roman Catholic in the first round of states after sticking with that team that featured Division I talent for three quarters. All-Delco Jawan Collins left as the program’s all-time leading scorer.
With three starters from the 2015-16 slated to return, including highly-touted freshman and Neumann-Goretti transfer Khyree Temple, Brydges proved the turnaround isn’t a one-off. It also means the cupboard isn’t left bare for his successor.
“That made it harder, having such a great group to go out with, probably the second-best season the program’s ever had,” he said. “… It’s good to go out on top, but that makes you want more, so it’s tough.”