Staying in the Game
PROVO, Utah – Sep 19, 2022 – Being the head coach of the BYU men’s extramural soccer team means Brandon Gilliam is often stretched to the limits of both his time and resources. However, the BYU Marriott School of Business recreation management and youth leadership alumnus stays in the game because he can think of few things better than helping young people develop their passions.
“I’ve put so much time into soccer and gained so much knowledge that not finding a way to pass that experience on seemed to be a waste,” Gilliam explains. He grew up playing goalkeeper, coming to BYU as a student-athlete in 2002. Gilliam played with the BYU team every year until 2008, except for a break to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Philadelphia. After graduating, Gilliam stayed with the team as an assistant coach.
Coming to BYU was not originally Gilliam’s plan. “I always say that the Lord chose BYU for me,” he says. “My parents are converts to the Church, and I grew up in Texas, so I didn’t know a ton about BYU. I wanted to play soccer at another university, but because of finances that opportunity was not an option. My brother came to play at BYU the year before me, and ultimately the head coach at the time offered me a spot to join him. BYU was a last-minute situation, so that’s why I say the Lord picked for me.”
Once he arrived on campus, Gilliam realized BYU offered more than just an opportunity to play soccer. He had always felt passionate about personal development, so when he discovered the recreation management and youth leadership program, Gilliam knew the major would be perfect for him. The program became the experience design and management (ExDM) major in 2017.
“My favorite thing about the classes I took was that each one was activity based and full of principles that could be applied to my life,” Gilliam says. “Even when I took outdoor classes, I learned a lot of practical development skills and interactive personal principles.” Since graduating, Gilliam has used his educational combination of personal improvement and youth leadership in more ways than being a coach. He often volunteers on outdoor adventure trips for teenagers, including with local group Youth Wilderness Experiences (YWE).
The recreation management and youth leadership program also helped Gilliam stay in coaching. While he was passionate about being an assistant coach after graduation, the position didn’t pay enough to support his family, so Gilliam started building two companies using principles he learned at BYU Marriott. BetterGoalkeeping trains young goalkeepers, while Soccer Development Group teaches parents who are looking to become coaches for their kids’ soccer teams. Gilliam started the second business with his brother, Morgan, with the company also providing support for various other aspects of youth soccer teams.
“I almost left coaching at one point because coaching is a difficult way to make a living. Thankfully, earnings from my businesses subsidized my income, allowing me to stay at BYU and make enough to provide for my family,” he explains.
Gilliam still works with both businesses—and now runs Soccer Development Group on his own—even after he was appointed head coach in 2015. Gilliam’s goal with the ventures is to create a lifestyle where he can stay close to his family while also supporting them. He and his wife, Nicole, have three children: Tensley, Micah, and Evelyn. Their family enjoys outdoor activities, including going camping, hiking, and climbing.
As a head coach, Gilliam has seen his players win three national championships in the last five years. While the success is certainly enjoyable, Gilliam is a coach because of his lifelong commitment to helping others develop their talents. “I’ve had so many great moments because of coaching,” he says. “I see success while watching people grow, form personal relationships with people, and have the opportunity to teach others. Coaching is one of the most rewarding jobs you can possibly have.”
Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Mike Miller