The Covington Y soccer program is becoming increasingly more competitive year after year. However, that is strictly a byproduct of the direction of the Y and its director of academy soccer, Austin Aldridge has been guiding the organization in.
The soccer program runs off the fundamentals of the Y, putting families and their children first.
“I think the big difference between the YMCA and recreation sports is that the YMCA’s No. 1 priority is family and No. 2 is character,” Aldridge said. “Our players act in such a way that it’s a family-oriented sport. That’s the difference; we’re not a sports program. We’re a family center.”
Aldridge keeps the Y soccer program going in that direction, following a quote by youth coach Paul McAllister, which says, “Professional coaches measure success in rings. College coaches measure success in championships. High school coaches measure success in titles. Youth coaches measure success in smiles.”
“Though it’s a little cheesy, that’s what we’re about,” Aldridge said.
He has been with the Y’s soccer program for about seven years since his son Tristan, started playing when he was 4. Aldridge began coaching, before volunteering in other positions with the Y’s soccer program.
Those are just several of the roles he has taken with the administrative side of the Y, giving him well-rounded exposure with the organization, including as a player.
Aldridge played soccer at the Y as a young Newton County resident, back when the program first started as the Newton Youth Soccer Association. Aldridge was coached by Ron Manson, who was the founder and director of the Youth Soccer Association. The program, at that time, consisted of about 40 or 50 players, compared to the large organization it is now.
After graduating from Newton in 1991, Aldridge went on to play football at Georgia Military Academy for two years, before attending Mercer for the next two years.
Aldridge came back to Covington and is now the minister to students at First Baptist Church of McDonough, after graduating from Mercer.
Aldridge continues working with children when he is off the clock, as the director of the Y’s academy level program for ages 6 to 12.
“Once I graduated from college and moved back home and had children, my son developed almost an immediate love of sports,” Aldridge said. “Because of my background, it was a no-brainer to get him into a team. Of course, at that point, I never desired to be a coach; I desired to sit on the sideline, but the opportunity arose.”