Claudia Brassard Steps Down As Head Coach Of Townsville Fire
Image Credit: Kehley McMahon
Townsville Fire has lost its Head Coach, with Claudia Brassard battling her way through tears to announce that she is stepping down from the role ahead of the 2019/20 season.
Having served as an assistant during the club’s back-to-back championships wins, Brassard steered the Fire to a third title in 2017/18 in just her second season at the helm.
She concludes her tenure as a head coach in the Chemist Warehouse WNBL with a 43-31 record and a winning percentage of 58%.
While the Fire had hoped Brassard would return for a fourth season, a change in works commitments means she is unable to serve as a full-time coach throughout the season with the club poised to commence their search for a replacement immediately.
Claudia Brassard Image Supplied
A former club captain, MVP and board director, Brassard is expected to remain involved in the club in some capacity throughout 2019/20.
She said the decision will enable her to pursue a new career commitment, adding she is not able to juggle both roles at the same time. She confirmed the 'other' role is not basketball related.
Ms Brassard said the decison was both "challenging" and "tough".
She became emotional when outlining that she is "really passionate about the team and the club and I would have liked the opportunity to continue working with Sam [GM Samantha Pascoe], I think she's got some really good ideas".
Ms Brassard said she has spoken to all of the players, saying she is feeling both happy and sad.
She also said the upcoming season will be an exciting one for the Fire following the retirement of captain and six-time WNBL MVP Suzy Batkovic. Ms Brassard said that coaching players like Suzy are the highlight of her career.
She indicated that the new recruits including Kate Gaze will now have a chance to shine.
Ms Brassard said the decision to step down is the right one for herself and her family adding it made her emotional because she had to visit the players in different locations, delivering the news five to seven times before Thursday's public announcement.
She said she didn't think this would rule her out of other coaching roles within the NBL, she still has a contract with the Under 19 Australian team
Ms Brassard said she would love to see coaching a women's side made into a full time role so coaches wouldn't have to juggle other commitments to make ends meet.
“The JCU Townsville Fire would like to thank Claudia for her incredible commitment to the club over the journey,” Fire chair Michelle Morton said.
“While she has served as head coach for the past three seasons, including our latest championship victory, her tenure with the club stretches back to 2002 across a myriad of roles.
“Her passion and commitment to the club has been unwavering, and while she will no longer be the head coach, we look forward to her remaining involved.”
Having served as a senior assistant for three seasons, Brassard was appointed head coach in 2016/17 and led the Fire to the semi-finals.
The following season she climbed the summit once again as the Fire defeated the Liz Cambage-led Melbourne Boomers 2-1 in a thrilling Grand Final series on their home floor.
The Fire’s title defence was curtailed last season as six-time WNBL MVP Suzy Batkovic spent the majority of the year sidelined through injury, but with a raft of championship heroes returning and an injection of new stars including Julie Vanloo and Bridget Carlton, the club is optimistic of a bright future.
“It’s a decision that I haven’t taken lightly,” Brassard said.
“The Fire has played such an enormous role in my life – not just my sporting career – and I’ll be forever grateful for the opportunities the club has afforded me as a player and as a coach.
“I’m sure whoever replaces me will do an incredible job, it’s a special club to coach, and I look forward to seeing them contend for another title throughout 2019/20.”
The JCU Fire will begin the recruitment process immediately.