Alum and former UCI volleyball coach, Charlie Brande ’69, CRE ’71, reminisces about his days as an Anteater, what he learned as coach, and why he gives back to the university.
Charlie Brande ’69, CRE ’71, redefines the term “Anteater for life.” In fact, Charlie was part of many of UCI’s “firsts.” He was a member of UCI’s first incoming class, he was a player on UCI’s first basketball team, he helped choose the school’s iconic mascot, and most important to him, he walked the inaugural commencement in 1969, graduating with an economics degree and earning a Lifetime Education Credential 1971.
Charlie enjoyed the small class sizes and the easy accessibility to professors. He credits his time as a student as being very instrumental to how he conducts business today.
“Basketball was initially the driving force that led me to choose UCI but it was my professors and Social Sciences Dean Lawrence who helped fuel my academics. I am grateful for my UCI degree. My understanding of economics and business administration today all stems from what I learned here as a student…And at a $9 tuition, I would say I got my money’s worth.”
Charlie also enjoyed the intimate nature of the campus and the pride that each of his classmates displayed. He also credits first UCI Chancellor, Dan Aldrich, for helping jumpstart the university.
“UCI was UCI because of Dan Aldrich. You would often see him walking around Aldrich Park and talking with the students.”
After college, Charlie started working a variety of investment jobs, but his true passion remained with athletics. Dan Guerrero, UCI Director of Athletics at the time, recruited Charlie to be the next UCI volleyball coach. Charlie credits Dan for teaching him about the player-coach relationship and the importance of academics in a student athletes’ career.
Serving as the Director of Volleyball from 1999-2002, Brande guided the men's team to 13 wins in 2001 for its then-third largest number of wins in school history and also steered that team to its second post-season appearance, upsetting four higher-ranked teams along the way. In 1999 Brande was awarded Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Coach of the Year honors after his team recorded wins over then-No. 1 Long Beach State, No. 2 UCLA and No. 7 Hawaii. He produced 10 All-MPSF honorees as well as three All-Americans in his tenure.
|Charlie Brande was a member of UCI's first basketball team. Sporting the number 22 jersey, it was basketball that led him to choosing UCI.|
At one point, Brande served as the coach of both the men’s and women’s volleyball team. Serving nine years as the woman’s volleyball coach, he led the team to NCAA post-season berths in 2003 and 2004. In 2007, Brande led the Anteaters to a third-place finish in the Big West, their highest since 2003, and had five Anteaters named to All-Big West teams for the first time in the program's history. Brande went on to retire in 2008.
Brande has remained a prominent figure in the club arena, starting and directing the Balboa Bay Volleyball Club (youth boys) since 1975, and directing the Orange County Volleyball Club (youth girls) since 1978. In his span, he has administered over 100 national championship medals and produced many college players, All Americans, and Olympians.
“It’s the counseling aspect that I cherish the most. While I enjoy teaching the principles of the game, I also want my players to succeed. I want them to lay out a path for their education, to get into the colleges they want, and learn the skills necessary to be successful in any career.”
And Charlie is doing his part to make this happen. Earlier this year, Charlie made a gift to the UCI Athletic Association.
“I am extremely proud of UCI's evolution into a top tier athletic and academic institution. It is great to see UCI Athletics focus more on the student's character development and grades as much and sometimes even more than solely athletic performance. Coach Kniffin continual focus on student's four year academic-athletic progress is why I give back.”
These days, you can catch Charlie supporting his daughter, Kaili, a senior at UC Davis majoring in Environmental Science, or sitting courtside at the Bren cheering both the men’s and woman’s UCI volleyball team. Supporters like Charlie help strengthen the Anteater family and continue to brighten the future for UCI and its students.