Brad Brucker can’t imagine doing anything else with his life. Which, considering the unorthodox path he took to his role as Piedmont’s girls head soccer and volleyball coach, makes sense.
“I’m right where I want to be,” he said.
Athletics have always been a part of his life. Born in Illinois, Brucker moved to Mustang with his family at the age of three. He stayed there through high school and grew into a burgeoning soccer star with Division I dreams.
“My one goal in life at that point was to play D-1 soccer,” Brucker said.
A pair of knee injuries limited Brucker to just one game in his senior season, though. Potential offers from Division I schools like The University of Tulsa and Centenary College of Louisiana disappeared. Southern Nazarene, a school that before his injuries Brucker had considered only because of
his close relationship with then SNU and current UCO head coach Mike Cook, for the first time seemed like a real option.
Although Cook, who never wavered on his offer to Brucker before or after his injuries, left SNU before he arrived, thanks to Cook’s word the offer remained on the table and Brucker signed with the Crimson Storm.
After two years in Bethany, Brucker’s love for soccer waned, replaced by his desire to start a family and join the ministry. So, in 2000, he left school, had his daughter, Avery, and pursued a career in the ministry. He helped form Generations Church in Norman, becoming a youth pastor there for four years.
In 2008, life changed course again. Brucker left the ministry and took job as a vacuum company salesman and opened a kitchen and bathroom remodeling business.
In 2011, Brucker completed his degree and earned his alternative teaching certificate. Soon after, he quit his job with the Oklahoma City Metropolitan Library System and moved to Piedmont. Brucker’s high school buddy, and new Piedmont boys head soccer, coach Zac Selph showed up on his door step shortly thereafter – figuratively.
“The first newspaper we got in Piedmont had a picture on the front page of coach Selph introduced as the new soccer coach,” he recalled.
Brucker got in touch with Selph, the pair met and Brucker joined Selph’s staff as an assistant coach in Piedmont’s first full season of soccer. He took a big cut in pay to join the program, subbing on the side full time to pay the bills. He barely scraped by that year.
“God really had a hand in my life,” he said.
Brucker was set to leave Piedmont to pursue a full-time teaching job elsewhere after 2011. But prior to the 2012 school year, a teaching position at the high school came open along with the girls head soccer position and an assistant’s spot on the volleyball team. He accepted.
“It’s amazing how things worked out,” he said.
Brucker teaches an Intro to Business course now.
“It’s not something I ever thought I’d be teaching,” he said. “But I love it.”
Brucker reflected on three people – youth soccer coach Steve McElroy, high school coach Mike McGary and his youth pastor Jon Middendorf – that had an influence on his life and his career to now.
“Those three people have really helped me become who I am today,” he said.
Now, Brucker says, he’s in a position to do the same thing for the players and students he mentors. Something he’s thankful for.
“All those experiences I draw back from as a coach. I tell my students and players all the time, most of life comes back to two things,” he said. “Do you have a plan and do you have enough effort to execute the plan? I’m very appreciative of my path, even though I wouldn’t choose to do it that way again; it’s made me who I am.”
This past season Brucker helped lead Piedmont to a program-best 12-win season and a berth in the Class 5A quarterfinals.
“It’s been a fun ride,” he said. “Professionally, it’s been the most successful year of my life.”
And he doesn’t intend for the ride to change direction again anytime soon. When Mustang’s head soccer position came open at the end of last season, friends wondered if the Mustang alum might apply for the job.
But he never considered it.
“I love what I’ve helped build here in Piedmont,” he said. “I think I can win multiple state titles here. I think the door is going to swing open for us in the next couple years. I’ve always wanted to live, teach and coach in same community, so I have zero desire to go anywhere.”
That, for Brucker, makes more sense now than ever before.