Literally, it stands for Dan Bribiescas.
Figuratively, it stands for much more.
Honor. Friendship. Pride.
Work. Love. Determination. Loyalty.
Ask Bribiescas’ friends about him and those are the words you hear. Ask the guys who played soccer for him as boys at Santa Rosa High School and grew into men with Bribiescas’ guidance, and you hear much the same.
So when Bribiescas died suddenly in September at the age of 56 — training for and still playing the game he loved — the void his death left was immediate and widespread. And although Bribiescas’ reach was largely through the game of soccer, the game — technique, fundamentals, tactics — were not all that he taught. Soccer was the medium for life lessons.
“It was the way he approached teaching young men how to become men,” said Mike Carlson, a 1988 Santa Rosa High graduate who went on to play Division I soccer at Southern Methodist University. “It was more than just soccer.”
Bribiescas was a gifted athlete who it could be argued found a greater gift in coaching than he did in playing. After winning the North Bay League title and league MVP honors as a senior, Bribiescas played Division II soccer at Chico State.
But he returned to the school that he loved and became coach of the game that he loved. He coached the Panthers from the late 1980s until 2001. But he stayed connected with the program and in recent years spent time with current coach Antonio Garcia and showed up for key games and sometimes delivered pep talks.
Bribiescas was the best there ever was in the Santa Rosa High boys soccer program. He began briefly as an assistant coach and then moved to head coach. His teams won nine North Bay League titles and four North Coast Section championships. There were also two Tournament of Champions titles thrown in there before the NCS tourney came along.
He was a winner who didn’t emphasize winning but rather giving everything you have.
His web of friends stretched far and wide not because he coached hundreds of boys for more than a decade, but because of what he taught those boys and how he treated them.
“He always made you feel like you were the most important person at that moment,” Carlson said. “You know the people who look through you or over your shoulder when you are talking to them? That wasn’t Dan.”
“He is everything,” Garcia said. Putting “DB” on the backs of their jerseys this season was a no-brainer, he said.
“I have had like five people say ‘Dan was my best friend.’ That was how he made people feel,” he said.
Bribiescas stayed connected with his former players. In fact, he was still playing on a team with some former players when he died.
“He was the kind of guy that mentored an entire generation of young men,” Carlson said. “He wasn’t friends with everybody, but he sure had a lot of them.”
Junior Gavin Weitzenberg, the Panthers’ center midfielder this season, understands the longevity of a Bribiescas friendship. His dad, Todd, played for Dan and continued their friendship into adulthood. Gavin Weitzenberg called Bribiescas a mentor.
Although Bribiescas knew how to win, it was more about appreciating the moment, honoring teammates, and playing for the program and for your school.