Huskies Are Ritch In Midfield Talent
Oct. 1, 2001
By Susan Reid
Bryn Ritchie was 16 years old and the youngest member on his squad when the San Diego Nomads elite age-group soccer team traveled to England to compete against top-level squads in a soccer-crazed country. Ritchie, now a senior defender on the Washington men's soccer team, didn't see much action on the field during that first trip across the pond. Upon returning to the States, he vowed to visit again one day and get his chance on the field.
That day came this past summer when Washington broke new ground as it took a preseason international tour to England, Aug. 15-27, the first of trip of its kind for a Husky soccer squad. The team enjoyed a 12-day, five-game tour that had the Huskies facing reserve squads from some of the world's best known soccer franchises. They posted a record of 1-1-3 on the trip.
It was Ritchie who initially approached Husky coach Dean Wurzberger with the idea for the tour.
'It was over a year in the making,' says Ritchie, who earned both athletic and academic All-America honors last year. 'We've been planning it for a long time. It was such a big confidence booster when I was in high school. I saw that we could play with those teams. We won most of the games but I wanted to go back when I had the chance to really contribute.'
And so he did. All last year, Washington players sold tickets for a raffle sponsored by Husky Fever, a support organization made up of people in the food industry throughout Washington. Nearly every sports team at Washington participated, with the opportunity to raise money for its program, and soccer used its portion to fund the trip to England.
'The trip this summer was a great experience,' said Ritchie, who along with his teammates was able to watch the home-opener between Manchester United, perhaps the world's richest sports franchise, and Fulham at Old Trafford. 'It's such a different atmosphere for soccer. There is so much passion for the game. It was inspiring. It got us pumped up for our games and we built a confidence in our team that otherwise might have taken until a lot later in the season. We had five games under our belt before we played in our first regular season tournament.'
The confidence paid immediate dividends as the Huskies upset No.1-ranked and defending national champion Connecticut in their second game of the year.
Ritchie, from Medford, Ore., has a knack for creating opportunity. An honors student in the business school at Washington, he is focusing on entrepreneurial ventures. Already, he and two classmates have founded a business called Husky Tutors, offering tutorial services by college students to children in kindergarten through 12th grade. It was born out of a business school program titled 'Creating A Company.' Over the span of two school quarters, students are charged with writing and presenting a business plan, gathering funding and then putting the plan into motion, with the final grade based on the success of the business. Husky Tutors was so successful that Ritchie and his partners were able to buy the company, for a nominal $1 intellectual property fee, from the University program.
Charged with the task of educating young school children through the tutoring service, Ritchie is now also charged with leading his Husky soccer team deeper into the NCAA tournament than it has ever gone. Washington, one of only nine programs in the country to make six consecutive tournament appearances, has yet to advance past the second round. As one of seven seniors on the 2001 squad and a co-captain along with Ben Somoza, Ritchie says this Husky team has the talent to win it all.
'This year is a little bit different,' he claims. 'Our demeanor is different. We're a little tougher, a little more confident. Our senior class has never experienced a losing season. We've won conference championships but it's ended there. That's still a goal but it's not the goal. Our ultimate goal is to win the national championship. We feel like we're skilled enough. Now it just comes down to getting the job done.'
'Bryn has all the tools to have another impact season,' adds Wurzberger, who is in his 10th season at Washington. 'This could be a big year for him because we've got a team capable of going all the way. A lot of our success is going to depend on the guidance and direction we take from his leadership as a senior.'
Ritchie, who is on track to graduate in June, hopes to pursue a career in professional soccer. Count on him to create yet another opportunity for himself at the next level, perhaps this time touring England as a professional.