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Sandy Journal

Beyond touchdowns: Ron McBride transforms community beyond football

Oct 12, 2023 01:46PM ● By Julie Slama

Utah Sports Hall of Famer Ron McBride speaks to Sandy Rotary members about his foundation’s after-school program and shares a few tales as a former University of Utah and Weber State football coach. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

On the field, his recipe was to build success in his players and in his football team.

Now the former University of Utah’s and Weber State University’s coach is spreading the word about his foundation, so “every child deserves the chance to succeed.”

“We have programs in 17 schools in the Jordan, Granite, Murray and Salt Lake school districts and want to be here in Canyons,” said Ron McBride before speaking to the Sandy Rotary and some Canyons School District administrators. “I’ve learned from 50-some years of recruiting and seeing what's needed and know young people are the most important people to our society. It’s important that we help our youth, especially those at-risk. I want to open avenues for them.”

He compared it to the U of U team in his early days.

“Obviously, the Utah-BYU game is huge, so I prepared my players with hard work. I took them to Carbon County. I wanted a place where the fields were horrible. The dorms were horrible. The food wasn’t great. I wanted to make it uncomfortable, and they couldn’t catch a bus back,” he said.

Then something changed.

“The people in Carbon adopted our football team and came to watch practice. They brought water to water the fields and what it did is it changed how these kids thought and the thought process of what life is really about. It resulted in the team’s attitude of being committed and believing in hard work. When people believe in you, then you have a good chance to succeed. When we got off the bus that day at BYU, I said, ‘This is our day.’ We got a 55-yard field goal to win the game and change the whole program that would sustain itself,” he said. “That’s what I’m building with these after-school programs. We believe in them; this is their day.”

McBride personally meets with each school’s principal and administrative team and sees the students before he makes a partnership. The after-school program is an answer to a need.

“At the beginning, we were considering rebuilding a library or the like. But in talking to the principals, we asked, ‘What do you mostly need?’ They said they needed a way to keep kids occupied from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and make sure they had food before they go home. So that’s where we started,” he said. “Now, I watch what they're doing after school and play around with them whether it’s Dungeons & Dragons or chess. I like all the sports, too. Rugby is big on the west side and dance clubs are huge.”

The Utah Sports Hall of Famer also helped to raise money for a track at Glendale Middle School, which after being completed last year, then welcomed student-athletes to get a “running start” at the meet and in life. His foundation also holds a soccer tournament in Ogden for thousands of youth.

It’s a personal connection for coach Mac.

“I grew up in the not-so-great area of LA. People really were struggling there,” he said. “I rode my bike to a park to play baseball and football and that kept me out of trouble. I’m hoping that by serving these youth with more programs, they have a better avenue to the life they deserve.”

He said that there’s another benefit to The Ron McBride Foundation’s after-school program.

“In the after-school program, the kids are seeing their teacher as a person and it builds that relationship into someone they can trust and go to when they need to,” he said. “They’re also getting ways to improve their educational experience as most of the schools offer computers and tutoring for kids.”

Coach Mac’s goal is to fund 23 schools in 2023 and said that many of his former players have contributed to the foundation as well as play in the golf tournament fundraiser to extend the program to six more schools to reach that mark.

“They know the importance of education,” he said, estimating 85% of his players graduated college. “Many of them will go into these after-school programs and play with the kids, be a role model.”

McBride was one of Sandy Rotary Club’s weekly speakers, all who have a dedication to advancing the community, said former president Diana Rosenkrantz, who has been a member 13 years.

“We’ve had a handler and his canine come and tell us how the dog finds computer chips with his nose because the circuitry is printed in the chemical that the dog smells,” she said. “We’ve invited the Sandy City development officer to share with us the changes that are coming in and we’ve had a special advocate for the foster system speak. We've had a lot of charities. There have been people that have come from nothing and made a difference in the community like the Turtle Shelter Project founder. She was once homeless and an addict. When she decided to get clean, she started making vests for others on the street to keep them dry from storms.”

As part of Rotary International, Sandy Rotary Club members are dedicated to bettering their community locally and globally. Recent activities for the 23 members include cleaning up local trails, supporting the Boys & Girls Club, annually sponsoring an international student, and providing a leadership academy to high school students.

“We have a willingness and a desire to serve,” Rosenkrantz said. λ