Brandon Gilliam continues to guide BYU men’s soccer to success
Three national championships. A team with a legacy of success. Leadership that evolved from the players. A coach that came from the players to lead the team to victory over and over again.
This is the story of Brandon Gilliam.
“Coach Gilliam is someone who lives and breathes the game,” BYU men’s soccer assistant coach Tanner Whitworth said. “He has an ability to read the field and make adjustments as needed and form a personal connection with every player.”
Gilliam is the current BYU men’s soccer head coach. Since taking the position in 2016, he has helped BYU become the National Intramural and Recreational Sports Association (NIRSA) champions four times, including each of the past three seasons.
Gilliam started his journey in soccer from an early age while growing up in Texas, but watching the 1994 World Cup was what cemented his passion for the sport.
“Being able to watch the competition in a sport that I was actually playing instilled a deep passion in me for soccer,” Gilliam said. “A large part of me really wanted to go professional, and so I put all of my objectives towards that goal. I always have said that the Lord picked me to be able to come to BYU, with other options not working out my senior year of high school.”
Gilliam was remarkably successful as a player. During his career at BYU, Gilliam was one of the league’s top goalkeepers over two seasons, but he soon realized there was an even greater opportunity to impact the game.
“Things changed my senior year at BYU,” Gilliam said. “I realized that as much as I loved playing (soccer), it was the environment in helping people to grow, find great passion and desire and just become better people through playing the sport (that appealed to me).”
Gilliam transitioned immediately from player to assistant coach after he finished college in 2008. During that time, he had to work two jobs on top of his responsibilities as assistant coach to help make ends meet, as the assistant coach position was unpaid.
Working as a system manager for a soccer store along with training youth soccer players, Gilliam needed to choose between soccer and retail.
“I took that leap of faith into coaching,” Gilliam said. “I feel that the Lord had a big hand in where I ended up.”
He had eight years of experience as an assistant at BYU before becoming the head coach for his alma mater.
“In my first two years as head coach I tried to have a hold on everything that was done,” Gilliam said. “I quickly realized that the best power in coaching is to allow others to make great decisions, not to make the decisions for them.”
Today the coach leads an incredibly successful club team for BYU, with four national titles to his name.
“He is extremely organized,” BYU soccer player Max Magelby said. “It’s like reading a book every season where he may change individual activities but there is a plan for the entire season.”
Today, Gilliam runs three businesses along with his coaching duties. While Gilliam focuses on helping his team improve on the field, his focus as a coach goes farther than that.
“My goal is to make sure that every player that we have leaves this program a better person than when they arrived,” Gilliam said. “I could easily go coach at another school, but being here and being around these players and building this culture matters. If my kids can see their dad do something meaningful and purposeful, then it doesn’t matter about the finances, I’m successful.”