Brianna Brand: Coach of the Year
Published on September 19th, 2023
Brianna Brand (Chestermere, Alberta), Head Coach at the Calgary Yacht Club, has been selected Sail Canada Coach of the Year for 2022 as the country celebrates National Coaches Week, an annual event which ends on September 24. Established in 1931, Sail Canada is the national governing body for the sport of sailing in the country.
The Sail Canada Coach of the Year Award is presented annually to a coach who demonstrates high coaching skills and contributes to sporting excellence by offering a healthy attitude towards winning and enjoying the sport, in addition to having shown effectiveness in training.
The winners are Sail Canada certified and registered coaches who demonstrate and have made a significant impact on athletes’ performances at competitions, and who reinforce the spirit of sport values to her/his athletes, measured by a respect for the game, a love for sport, a respect for others and a commitment to fair and ethical sport.
Nominations have been evaluated based on a time period through the 2022 calendar year.
“I am incredibly honored and excited to have been selected as the 2022 Sail Canada Coach of the Year,” said Brianna Brand. “Coaching sailing truly has been one of the most fulfilling things I’ve done with my life and I think it is so incredible to watch the development of an athlete, not only as a competitive sailor, but also as a person.”
Brand was named Head Coach at the Calgary Yacht Club in 2016, where she inherited a race team consisting of only three Opti sailors. Since then, she established a sailor recruitment plan and developed a racing program to put the Prairies on the map in Canadian sailing, at a time when youth competitive sailing was in sharp decline in Alberta.
She has worked tirelessly to recruit youth sailors, with a focus on inclusion of girls and youth sailors with disabilities, as well as other populations not typically represented in sailing.
Through grants, fundraising, advocating to club and provincial boards, as well as the preparation and presentation of many proposals, she oversaw the purchase of a new fleet of boats for the CYC including ILCAs, 29ers, C420s and Optimists.
This created opportunities to recruit and engage sailors in classes that they otherwise would not have had access to, making sailing accessible to athletes of all socioeconomic levels by providing the use of club boats and fundraising for regatta/travel costs.
The CYC youth race team now has a devoted group of 40+ athletes, in Optimist, ILCA, C420, 29er, and 2.4mR, with an enviable 40% of these comprised of diverse youth populations.
At Sail West 2022, CYC athletes dominated the podium in 29er, ILCA 4, and Optimist and her athletes made up the majority of Alberta’s seven-sailor team at the 2022 Canada Summer Games.
Two of her sailors were also named to compete at the 2022 29er World Championships in Spain and she joined her athletes, largely at her own expense, to coach them as well as other Canadian athletes alongside Steve McBride, a former CYC Head Coach himself.
She currently sits on the Boards of both CYC and the recently revived Canadian 29er Class Association.
As Head Coach of a small club from the Prairies, her responsibilities have a far greater reach than those who coach at clubs that have a larger breadth of staff and more depth of resources. She has never shied away from hauling gas cans, towing boats, fleet management, repair, and maintenance; managing a sailing school; organizing and planning travel; managing parents and athletes; training athletes both on and off season; as well as hiring and training staff.
Additionally, Brand continues to educate herself further both in coaching/sailing and outside of sport. She holds an honors bachelors degree in Exercise and Health Physiology and is currently a medical student at the University of Alberta.
Brand is also an ambassador and real Role Model for the Alberta-founded, national charity Fast and Female, whose mission is to promote and encourage self-identifying girls to engage and continue to participate in competitive sport and activity. She is also a volunteer with the Canadian Association of Disabled Skiers.
From the CYC: “Brianna is a beacon of light for Alberta female sailors. Kids, especially girls, relate, they love her, and the sport becomes a little less intimidating… and a lot more fun. She’s not just a great coach, she’s a great person.
“Athletes respect her, summer camp kids adore her, and our Club is honored to have her. There is no doubt that she has contributed greatly to the growth in sailing across Alberta and she was key to Alberta athletes branching out to regattas in other provinces and countries.”
Source: Sail Canada