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Nothing less than a legend

VOLLEYBALL: With a coaching career that began in the 1970s, Brande made an indelible mark.

December 15, 2008|By Barry Faulkner

They were champions, All-Americans and future coaches. They were also future doctors, lawyers, company presidents, working-class heroes, fathers, mothers, and friends. Over a volleyball coaching career rooted in four decades, Charlie Brande impacted them all.

Even after he packed up his office at UC Irvine — shifting to a new role as a fundraiser for his alma mater having retired as women’s coach after nine seasons in order to more closely follow his daughter’s high school experience — Brande impacts his former players still.

The remnants of the countless life lessons he drilled into them, just as painstakingly as he schooled them on the sport’s fundamentals, continue to insinuate themselves into his former athletes’ daily routines, as tangible as a creaky knee or a balky shoulder.

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No cardboard box or trophy case can contain a legacy forged practice after practice, match after match, at the high school, club and collegiate levels. Similarly, the passion with which Brande prodded, praised and pushed his players, knew no common bounds.

“To me, the most amazing thing about Charlie is the energy and devotion he gave to kids for two or three generations,” said Albert Gasparian, who landed his first coaching job with Brande’s Orange County (girls) and Balboa Bay (boys) club programs and went on to win 16 state championships in 22 seasons as the women’s coach and eight seasons as men’s coach at Golden West Community College between 1983 and 2004. “To still be at it as long as he was, and still be 100% committed to teaching is incredible.”

Brande’s teachings, both on the court and off, affected more than 1,000 kids, scores of whom he helped secure college volleyball scholarships. He still keeps tabs on hundreds of his former players, many of whom often bristled at his relentless intensity.

“He was very demanding and, at times, it was difficult,” said Ashlie Hain, an All-Big West Conference setter who triggered Brande’s NCAA Tournament teams of 2003 and 2004 and is now associate head coach at Moorpark College in Ventura County. “But he prepared us for more than volleyball; he prepared us for life. Looking back, of all the things I’ve encountered since playing for him, nothing has been as challenging.”

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