SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Growing up in a tough neighborhood in the Los Angeles area, having a place where he and his friends could hang out to play sports was a big part of Ron McBride’s life.
Born in 1939 in South Gate, California, and living a few blocks from the working-class Watts neighborhood, which had a diverse minority population, McBride calls his hometown “not a great place.”
“People really struggled there,” he recalls.
Around this time, long before social media and video games were a part of a child’s life and social structure, McBride remembers waking up on weekends and in the summer to ride a bike to in South Gate Park to play baseball or football with friends. until the sun goes down at night.
McBride believes that having this park and a quality youth activity program in the area has kept him and many of his friends out of trouble. Developing this love of the sport probably also catapulted him into a career in athletics which included playing football at San Jose State University during his time in school and a legacy as a head coach. of Utah and Weber State later.
Now over 80, McBride, who has made the University of Utah a respectable program and set the stage for the success the Utes have enjoyed since, hopes to continue to make an impact on the local community by offering a place like the park that he enjoyed as a child.
In collaboration with the Salt Lake Education Foundation, the Ron McBride Foundation is seeking to build a running track and implement increased athletic programs for young people at Glendale Middle School, west of Salt Lake City.
“For the underserved group, the more education and opportunities you give people, the more likely they are to have the kind of life they deserve,” McBride tells ABC4.com.
What South Gate and Watts are to Southern California, Glendale may be the Salt Lake Valley. The college located west of the capital near Redwood Road and between S 1300 and S 1700 has an incredibly diverse student body. Of 800 enrolled, 94% receive free or reduced-rate lunches, 35% live in very transitional homes and 45% learn to speak English, according to the foundation.
McBride’s goal is to create a 6-line track around the school’s soccer field that can serve as a center for exercise, physical activity and supervised entertainment that can not only serve the students of the school. but also the adults of the community.
“This track offers an opportunity for anyone, regardless of age, anyone can access it to walk or run on it. It will really bring the community together, ”said James Yapias, director of the Salt Lake Education Foundation. “I think it’s about contributing to healthy lifestyles by encouraging people to walk and be active.
Having McBride spearheading the project is huge for its potential, Yapias says. Having already raised $ 60,000 to build the track and hire a sports program coordinator, the two foundations are looking to raise an additional $ 190,000 to make the track, which would be dubbed the Ron McBride Track, a reality.
As he grew up as a Californian, Utah became the home of McBride and his legacy will last for years to come. After his varsity playing career ended in 1962, McBride rose through the coaching ranks until he arrived in Beehive State as the Utes’ assistant coach twice before d ” obtain the post of director in 1990.
When he took the reins, Utah was a largely unrecognized program known as the figurative little brother of BYU, which at the time was a national power. Quickly McBride made the Utes a winner, evidenced by the 1994 season in which Utah went 10-2 and reached the top 10. The success gradually faded and McBride was fired from the program after the 2002 season.
After his tenure in Utah ended, McBride accepted an assistant position at the University of Kentucky, which he hated. He missed Utah, where he had worked for more than two decades, and jumped at the chance to return as head coach of Weber State in 2005.
After a seven-year run at Ogden, McBride retired from coaching in 2011, having won 88 games in Utah and 43 at Weber State.
He never left, remaining a friend of virtually every college football program in the state, being seen driving not only from Utah and Weber State, but also from the State of the Utah and even BYU. When not working for his foundation, which primarily provides grants to create after-school programs at Title I schools in Utah, he helps with the Juan Diego Catholic High School football program.
Yapias believes the track would be the latest addition to Coach Mac’s long-standing reputation in the region and the community has a chance to be a part of it.
“Anyone who is willing to contribute, I think, will definitely put a signature to their legacy of working among underserved populations from Utah to Salt Lake,” he said.
As part of his work with communities such as families who make Glendale Middle School a part of their lives, McBride frequently visits school to interact with children.
While kids might not know him as a sports legend – which McBride jokingly laughs at, “whatever” – the coach still has a way of communicating with kids that makes them thrilled to see him, said Yapias.
After all, helping young people reach and reach potential they may not have known has been his lifelong calling, even after his life as a college football coach.
“It’s the goal of my whole life,” says McBride. “Young people and hoping you can create a positive influence for them and give them positive results.”