Brian Johnston displays the award for Youth Coach of the Year he received from BC Soccer last Saturday, while Glen Martin holds his Award of Merit. (Sandy MacKay photo)

Coaches get deserved recognition

Two Cowichan Valley Soccer Association coaches who were honoured by the provincial governing body for the sport last weekend have a long-standing connection.

Brian Johnston, who was named BC Soccer Youth Coach of the Year on Saturday, once played on a team coached by Glen Martin, who received BC Soccer’s Award of Merit at the same ceremony. Martin, barely out of youth soccer himself, was coaching the U18 team that his brother Barry played on in the early 1980s. They also played together on Cowichan’s Div. 2 men’s team that went to the BC Summer Games in 1984.

Johnston himself got his start in coaching around the same time, beginning at the age of 17. He has spent the last 37 years coaching at a variety of levels, but still didn’t see the Coach of the Year award coming.

“It was a surprise to me,” Johnston said. “I’m humbled by it. There are a lot of very good and dedicated coaches out there.”

After coaching community soccer for several years, Johnston started coaching girls and boys high school teams when he started teaching at Cowichan Secondary in 1990. He returned to community soccer when his own daughters were getting into the competitive ranks. He coached both their teams this past season, Mackenzie in the U17 Gold division and Taylor in the U14 Gold ranks. The U17 Cowichan Chaos won the Coastal Cup last month and in July will be the lone team from the CVSA to compete at a provincial tournament.

There are a lot of reasons Johnston keeps coaching, including his passion for the sport.

“I’ve always liked the game,” he said. “I still play. I like to pass on the enthusiasm or experience to others. It’s a nice way to be involved in the community.”

Johnston expressed his gratitude to the supportive parents who have backed him up over the years, and to his wife, Sandy MacKay.

“She helps me out a lot,” he said. “She fills on if I’m away or if I need help.”

Martin, who has coached Cowichan’s top-level senior men’s team for 13 years, including the last 12 in Div. 1, received an overdue Award of Merit, which recognizes service to a team or sport over 10-year period as a player, manager, coach, administrator. Martin referred to it as the “old-timer award.

In his 12 years at the help of Cowichan FC, the team has reached the Jackson Cup final seven times, winning the Island senior men’s title four times, and has been a regular qualifier for the provincial championship tournament.