Brien Braswell ’87 has been building a community for the past 25 years.
Since 1989, Brien has been pacing the sidelines, leading both the boys and girls soccer programs, at Ragsdale High School in Jamestown, N.C. The sideline at Kenneth T. Miller Stadium has become a second home to Brien, who has coached 50 different teams during his time as the Tigers’ head soccer coach.
It’s that same sideline where he was twice named the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) High School Coach of the Year (1993, 2005) and the NSCAA All-South Region Coach of the Year (2005). It’s also the sideline where he led seven Ragsdale soccer teams to state championship titles.
Now, it’s the same sideline where he earned an induction into the N.C. Soccer Hall of Fame.
But before he helped fill the trophy case at Ragsdale, before being twice named the NSCAA High School Coach of the Year, the NSCAA All-South Region Coach of the Year and before leading seven teams to state championship titles, Brien learned there’s more to soccer – and life – than trophies and victories.
“It’s not about wins and losses,” Brien says. “It’s about community and work ethic. It’s impossible to get through life without help. Nothing is set in stone; you have to be flexible and adjust along the way.”
Brien, who played four years of soccer at Guilford College, said he grew as an individual both on the field and in the classroom. “Playing soccer at Guilford was fun,” Brien says. “I really appreciate growing as a player and working with my teammates towards the common goals of success in a team sport.”
If Brien wasn’t on the soccer field, he was likely in the classroom. “You must take your academics seriously,” Brien says. “If you’re an athlete, you must understand the classroom comes first.”
Brien’s work in the classroom gave him the opportunity to explore what life might be like after Guilford.
“Guilford gave me a great education filled with choices; choices that I had to make on my own,” Brien says. “Guilford taught me to be independent and what it means to work with others to be successful.”
Brien says the College was a perfect fit for him because of the intimate setting and the ability to take a variety of courses that interested him. “Guilford is a school where a young person can learn and grow into a productive member of society,” Brien says. “I enjoyed Guilford’s unique, personalized education.”
In 1989, two years after graduation, Brien accepted a position to teach Health and P.E. at Ragsdale. He believes the education he received at the College allowed him to find, and pursue, his passion.
“I’ve been extremely fortunate to find something I enjoy doing and been able to continue doing it for 25 years,” Brien says. “Some people never find their niche, but I feel as though I have. My mother once told me that I need to stop and smell the roses and it’s the journey one needs to enjoy – she is so right.”
Behind Brien’s success stands a community that he has worked diligently to cultivate and maintain.
“I would not be in this position if it wasn’t for all my players over the years,” Brien says. “They have represented themselves, their parents, their school and their coach so wonderfully.”
But Brien isn’t finished yet.
“I’m still working as hard as ever, so maybe years down the road I can look back and enjoy the many relationships and success I’ve been fortunate to form and accomplish,” Brien says.
He’ll return to the pitch in the fall to coach another season at Ragsdale. He’ll be busy teaching, coaching, driving the bus, filling the water coolers, pumping up the soccer balls and painting sidelines on the field.