BRIDGEWATER — Add another chapter to the Broadway-Turner Ashby rivalry.
The two schools are separated by less than 20 miles along Route 42 and have a long history against each other across football, basketball, baseball and softball.
When it comes to soccer, however, Simon Timbrell said he simply doesn’t see it.
“I don’t really see it as a rivalry,” Timbrell said. “I see Broadway and TA on opposite ends of the county. The rivalry really didn’t play a part, I guess, because I’m not really born and raised here and not really familiar with the rivalry.”
Timbrell was named the new boys soccer coach at Turner Ashby on Tuesday, the school announced through a press release, after spending the past two seasons at Broadway.
In 2018, Timbrell was named the Valley District Coach of the Year and helped lead the Gobblers to their first regional tournament appearance in program history last season.
“Ultimately, apart from a family decision, when the opportunity became available at TA, it’s not an opportunity that comes around all the time,” Timbrell said. “I thought that now is a better time than ever to go to a school that has more of a soccer culture that fits into more of my personality and having the same passion for the sport as what I have.”
He’ll replace Yen Nguyen, who also lasted only two years with the Knights, and went 14-18-4.
“We are excited to bring a coach of Simon’s caliber and experience in for this position,” TA athletic director Will Crockett said. “He will have a positive impact on our kids and program with his enthusiasm for the sport and overall leadership qualities.”
Prior to Timbrell’s arrival at Broadway, the Gobblers struggled to compete past the district level and to build any sort of consistency within the program.
During the brief stint under Timbrell, however, Broadway went 15-20-2 and developed a reputation as a growing program in a competitive Valley District.
“It was a great challenge to have,” Timbrell said. “I feel that soccer in the entire [Shenandoah] Valley needs some work, so Broadway was a great place to kind of lay a foundation and especially in a town that isn’t really known for soccer.
“To bring a soccer culture to the Broadway area, it was just a matter of bringing the passion and the love that I have for the game and the opportunities it’s allowed me to have as a young kid. I wanted to give those opportunities to the kids in the Broadway area and they responded really, really well.”
It was a move that surprised the Broadway community after such a short run.
This past season, the Gobblers gave perennial state powerhouse Rustburg a solid fight before losing 2-1 in the Region 3C quarterfinals to end their season.
“We were surprised to hear that Coach Timbrell was interested in the TA position,” BHS athletic director Ryan Ritter said. “Obviously, nothing against Turner Ashby, they have a great athletic department, but we thought we had a great thing going at Broadway. The past two years speak for themselves and the work Coach Timbrell, his staff and our players put in. Our boys soccer program is in a good spot and we will continue to move in the right direction.”
That enthusiasm for the future of the Gobblers program was repeated by 2019 BHS graduate and team captain Reuben Mast, who played a pivotal role in the rebuild.
Mast, along with several of his classmates, paired with Timbrell as juniors and said they made it their mission to elevate the Broadway program to a place it had never been.
“When Coach Simon came into the Broadway soccer program, we had an existing core group of friends and teammates that have grown up playing together since many of us were 10 years old,” Mast said. “He brought in a diverse coaching staff that brought positive energy and new perspectives to our program. This year we were able to bring all of these attributes together and to love the game.”
There was no bad feelings from Mast toward Timbrell for the move.
He called his former coach a “good listener” and praised the diverse approach he brought to the program that it hadn’t previously seen.
“My teammates and I were always able to express concerns or offer suggestions about tactics and strategy,” Mast said. “This quality allowed players to provide insight and was beneficial for the success of our program.”
The move put Ritter back in a familiar position: searching for a coach.
Ritter has already had to hire a new volleyball, golf, competition cheer and football coach this year and is now tasked with finding someone who can build off Timbrell’s success in boys soccer.
“We have already posted the position and look forward to seeing who applies,” Ritter said. “While it’s always ideal to hire someone sooner than later, we need to ensure we find the right fit and someone who meets the pillars we have established for our coaches at Broadway.”
Timbrell said he remained proud of what he accomplished during his short time there and said the unique training regiments are what helped lead to the team’s success.
While he enjoyed the wins, he said he also enjoyed seeing several players over the past two seasons gain individual recognition such as all-district or all-region honors — something he thinks is important.
“You’ve got to let the players experience success rather than just the team experiencing success,” Timbrell said. “Ultimately, as coaches, the goal is to give these kids a soccer education and not just what happens in the win-loss column.”
After meeting with TA players and their parents, Timbrell said the excitement for next season is mutual between both sides, and that players are already reaching out to him to schedule offseason workouts.
He said he’ll focus on cognitive training, learning the game and why they do certain things on the field before eventually diving into workouts prior to the season.
While he acknowledged it may be different being on the other sideline next season, he still didn’t consider the rivalry an obstacle and said he’s focused on his goals with the Knights.
“We’re definitely going to challenge for the district crown and I think they have the talent to make it to states,” Timbrell said. “But, we’ll have to see. We’ll take it a game at a time. It’ll take some time to get started, but I think with the talent they have available, they’ll catch on pretty quick.”