Prestridge begins 'Clean Slate'

Randy Lefko
Posted 8/2/17

ORANGE PARK - Ridgeview High soccer standout Ricky Prestridge, Class of 2014, had a precarious choice in the middle of his senior season as a starting midfielder for the Panthers.

"I had an offer …

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Prestridge begins 'Clean Slate'

Posted

ORANGE PARK - Ridgeview High soccer standout Ricky Prestridge, Class of 2014, had a precarious choice in the middle of his senior season as a starting midfielder for the Panthers.

"I had an offer to play at the University of Central Florida and was all set to play there until the day before I was supposed to move in," said Prestridge. "I was also getting interest to play with the Jacksonville Armada FC club right here in Jacksonville."

Prestridge, 21, signed to play at UCF and continued his high school days with split time between Ridgeview High and an Orlando-based club team; Orlando City where Prestridge was a captain and a nationally-ranked scoring machine.

"I decided one day before going to Orlando that I wanted to check the pro game," said Prestridge, known for his lightning footspeed with the ball.

Prestridge had ventured into some high school coaching at Ridgeview with head coach Paul Tomaro, but has kept his game at a high level hoping for a break.

"I was coaching and working some odd jobs," said Prestridge, who also attended some pro team tryouts. "Then I got a break."

Bill Brindley, from Trinity Baptist College in Jacksonville, was picked in 2017 to head up the soccer program at Columbia International University in Columbia, South Carolina, a National Christian College Athletic Association program. While coaching at Trinity, Brindley kept his eye on Prestridge. Trinity also scrimmaged Prestridge and the Armada U-23 team at times during season play.

"Ricky is a scorer, but he is also a great all around player who isn't afraid to play defense," said Brindley, who took Trinity to a NCCAA Division II national title in his three year tenure, while compiling a 43-17 overall record.

"He will bring a dynamic skill set to the team and one that will mesh well with the guys we already have. We look forward to what he brings and are happy that he chose to be a Ram."

Because Prestridge signed a pro contract with the Armada, Columbia, an NCCAA member, offers a unique opportunity for Prestridge to get his skill set back up to full throttle as he was before the ankle injury.

"Two things this does for me," said Prestridge. "One, I get a chance to have a structured program to hone my skills. I've been in and out of a number of different programs with different coaches and styles. Two, I want to work toward a college degree. It's a clean slate to do maybe what I should have done in 2014."

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