Lacrosse: First-time head coach named Coach of the Year

It was a regular coaches’ meeting. Utah Valley University lacrosse head coach Brae Burbidge was busy writing notes while all other coaches were looking over the newly released All-American list and Coach of the Year awards on their phones.

He realized that everyone started to look at him. Team coordinator Tom James asked him if he read the email, but Burbidge didn’t give it any thought knowing that with all the powerhouses they played against, the Wolverines had only a handful of players that made the list.

Burbidge was blindside by the response of James after asking who won the award, “You did,” he told him. Burbidge simply replied, “Oh you got to be kidding me!”

A Salt Lake City native, Burbidge graduated from Cotton Wood High School. After serving a two-year LDS mission in New Zealand, he had a small stint at Arizona State University, then transferred to the University of Utah and graduated with a degree in Political Science and Accounting.

He now builds resort homes in Heber, Utah with his brother. While his brother handles the construction, Burbidge handles the finance side of the business.

Burbidge started coaching 16 years ago when his son’s school was in need of a parent to help out with coaching the team. Having no experience with the sport he bought a How to Coach Lacrosse DVD.

“It took me a good year and a half to figure the sport out,” Burbidge said. “It was great to start out as a dad on a youth league because you can make mistakes, and I made plenty of them.”

Burbidge continued to coach youth lacrosse for the next eight years. He then moved on to coach at Pleasant Grove High School, where he started out as an assistant defensive coach and eventually moved up to be the head coach for three years.

He was contacted in 2015 by James after he quit his job at PGHS and was asked if he would come on and coach the men’s lacrosse team at UVU. Burbidge was ready to take it easy and focus on his family and work, but when the opportunity arose he said it just felt natural.

“I was super excited about it, I knew some of the kids there and it just felt like a real natural transition and it’s been a blast,” Burbidge said.

Photos courtesy of Brae Burbidge
Photos courtesy of Brae Burbidge

Even though it has been a fluid transition from high school to college, it has not been an easy one. Burbidge said that the travel and the scheduling have both been something he has had to get used to. Also the speed of the game and the knowledge of the game as well.

“It has been a little bit difficult, but I have some amazing assistant coaches who have played colligate level and who have worked in the colligate level,” Burbidge said. “They have been a huge factor; they have cut down my learning curve massively.”

He also credits the success they had this season to his players, saying that in high school you are limited in having one or two good players, but in college you have all the great players from high school.

Burbidge said with the strong start of the season, and his newly given award, the recruiting for the team has skyrocketed, which gives him high hopes for next season. He believes that with such strong recruiting, many returning players and the strong start of this year’s season they will make Nationals this year.


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