Coach who rebuilt winning tradition for Batavia football steps down after 11 seasons

Coach who rebuilt winning tradition for Batavia football steps down after 11 seasons


Six section titles and two state semi-finals isn’t a bad legacy for most coaches, who have been managing varsity football teams for far longer than Brennan Briggs has been coaching at Batavia.

Briggs accomplished that feat — along with a career record of 88-25 — over 11 seasons.

In reality, Briggs won six section titles in nine seasons because the football program he inherited in 2012 lay in tatters. After years of losing records, the Blue Devils needed a coach who could restore player development, discipline, vision and a relentless desire to win. It took a couple of seasons for Briggs to fully implement a new system and setting in Batavia. Once he did that, the Blue Devils were consistently formidable opponents, game after game, year after year.

In 2014, the Blue Devils won the school’s first football division title since 1991.

“As a BHS graduate like Brennan, I know the pride that existed in Blue Devil football when I was a BHS student and during his successful tenure as coach, Brennan restored that great pride and tradition to all of us Batavians,” said Superintendent said Jason Smith.

But the effort it takes to consistently win in varsity football takes its toll. The coaching doesn’t just take place between the lines on Friday evenings or during afternoon training. There are scouting trips, hour-long movie reviews, team meetings, meet-ups with coaches, meet-ups with players and parents, and nights just thinking about the next game. Planning and preparation is hard work. And it’s a year-round job.

“Brennan is the kind of manager who would never be overtaken,” said sporting director Mike Bromley. “But this kind of work wears you down.”

Because of this, Briggs is stepping down as head coach of the Batavia football team and this is what Briggs said in his resignation letter:

It’s been an incredible journey but it’s time for me to focus on the things I’ve lost sight of over the years and that is to be a good husband, father, son, brother, uncle and friend be. I’ve been trapped in this “process” for so long, and it affects the people I love the most. When done right, the hours in this position are endless, late nights are the order of the day, and stress is the norm. Everyone talks about balance. Balance has never been a forte of mine. I’m all in or I’m out. Balance is great, but if you want to be at the top there is no balance and that’s one of the reasons I have to step down. My family needs me to be with them long term. Unfortunately, because of my family health history, I believe that if I continue down this path, I will not be there for those who need me most, when they need me most.

It’s this all-in character from Briggs that both Smith and Bromley mentioned when discussing the manager’s decision to retire from football.

“I’ve known Brennan and his family through a family friendship throughout my life and taught Brennan to swim in the Red Cross backyard swim program in the ’80s and early ’90s,” Smith said. “He is first class all round – a humble and confident leader and I congratulate him personally and professionally on his success. His wife Justine and children certainly more than deserve to have their husband and father more in their lives and I wish them the best of luck.”

Bromley said he and Briggs had been talking about the coach’s possible retirement for a couple of years and what a tough decision it was, but in the end Briggs put his health and family first.

“He’s doing the right thing,” Bromley said.

Briggs – who himself had been a football and hockey star for Batavia – joined Batavia’s football program straight out of college, first as a modified coach, then spent two seasons as a JV coach (he went undefeated in his sophomore year). He will continue as a hockey coach, Bromley said. He also remains in his position as a teacher at Batavia Middle School.

Briggs will continue to make a positive impact on academics and athletics in the Batavia City School District, Bromley said.

“Anything Brennan wants to do, he’s going to be successful because of his high energy, his work ethic, his character and the people who feed off of those things,” Bromley said.

Because Briggs has built such a robust program, Bromley is not concerned about maintaining Briggs’ high standards. All coaches at all levels of the program are invested in and understand the system, so whoever next steps into the head coaching role, while they may have their own ideas to convey, already has the framework to build a championship teams, he said.

In the short term, the JV team has been unbeaten for three consecutive seasons, and the modified team lost just one game last season.

“Brennan has launched a program that can be sustainable,” Bromley said.

Van Detta has been regularly packed to capacity on Friday nights for the past few seasons. Bromley doesn’t expect that community spirit to wane now that Batavia has a successful program.

Bromley hopes to have the new manager on board by the end of January.

Smith said Briggs represents Batavia well as head football coach and he and the Board of Education are grateful for the positive impact he has had on the community as head football coach.

“His program, coaching staff and student-athletes under his leadership took great pride in representing all of us at BCSD,” said Smith. “All the wins and titles weren’t bad either! On and off the field, Brennan showed dedication, an unmatched work ethic and a passion for all that makes Batavia what it is.”

Photo: Previously unreleased file photo of Brennan Briggs during football practice in 2013. Photo by Howard Owens.

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