Reported by Kristyn Anthony
After 16 seasons with the Langara women’s soccer team, head coach Ryan Birt is stepping down.
Birt started his career at Langara as an assistant coach in the late 90s. Returning as head coach in 2001, he led the Falcons to provincial and national championships three times, was named conference coach of the year four times, national coach of the year once. Under his leadership, he also led the Falcons to win five PacWest league titles.
Birt leaves as most decorated coach in Langara College history
“It’s not an easy decision,” Birt said of his departure. “I enjoy doing what I do, but it really comes down to being able to spend more time with my family.”
A father of two sons active in sports themselves, Birt said the time commitment required to do the job well is high.
“I love being involved with soccer at an elite level,” said Birt. “The ability to work with and learn from quality coaches […] and the goal of always looking to improve your team is a challenge that I continued to chase right up until my decision to step down.”
Athletics Director Jake McCallum said Birt’s dedication to recruitment is what the college will miss the most. He said Birt had a skill for committing players to Langara, some of them before graduating high school.
“He’s meant a lot to the program,” McCallum said. “It’s a big loss. He’s had a tremendous amount of success.”
Birt’s intense yet positive coaching style benefited his players
Loren Lidin knows Birt both as a player and fellow coach. As a goalkeeper on the 2008 championship soccer team, she said Birt’s coaching style was intense, but always positive and focussed on how to improve in the face of loss.
Lidin said he prioritized his team’s education as much as their skills in soccer. He often led by example by juggling coaching with his teaching career and family.
“I think he taught a lot of us a huge lesson in the sense that you need to balance your life,” Lidin said.
Birt’s successor has yet to be named and the job post remains open until January.