Mark Briggs started as a soccer player. He played for a handful of teams, most notably the Wilmington Hammerheads. Although he may have only played there for a short few seasons, Wilmington eventually became a huge part of his career and life. He was a player, coach, and more for the club. Briggs says, “I’m extremely grateful to Wilmington the city and to Wilmington Hammerheads the organization.”
It is because of the Wilmington Hammerheads organization that Briggs found his way into coaching. During his time as a player, Briggs never anticipated going into coaching, and it wasn’t anything he really thought about during his playing days. It would be a U12 girls team that helped him to realize his passion for coaching.
“It was the end of the 2012 season, and I didn’t want to leave,” Briggs said. “I was comfortable in Wilmington and kinda happy, so I started coaching this U12 girls team and that was when I got my first start in coaching and I literally fell in love with it. In every office I’ve had as a professional coach there’s always a picture of those girls in my office on the board because that’s where it all started.”
After he got into coaching, Briggs quickly realized how passionate he was about it. Eventually he was promoted to academy director for the Hammerheads, and from there, he was promoted to technical director of the youth teams and eventually first team assistant coach.
Briggs used his time with the youth teams to “test out what I thought would be successful with professionals and experiment a little bit with my sessions and with me as a coach,” he said.
In 2016 Wilmington was struggling to stay afloat in the USL, forcing Briggs to make the decision to leave.
He says, “I think in football, you just have to take any opportunity you can.”
Ultimately this opportunity found Briggs in Salt Lake coaching alongside Mike Petke for a few months before becoming a head coach once again. Following the termination of Jeff Cassar, which saw Petke promoted to the head coach position with RSL, Briggs became head coach just one match in to the 2017 USL season.
Briggs saw this job coaching in Salt Lake as an opportunity to get his foot in the door. Being on a USL side with an MLS affiliate was very important for becoming a better coach to him. Once he broke into the head coach job, everything was going great. 2017 was the best season in Real Monarchs history with Briggs at the helm.
After going 20-7-5 in 2017, Real Monarchs SLC won the regular season in the USL. This was the first time they even so much as qualified for the playoffs, let alone won the regular season, or even had a winning record. Despite the disappointing ending to 2017, Briggs says, “We were the best team in 2017, no doubt about it.” Briggs attributes the team’s regular season success to having a great culture.
“We managed to implement a culture where players held one another accountable,” he said. “I always used to say there’s no days off in football. You can’t afford to waste a day because there’s always somebody that won’t waste a day”
Following 2017, Briggs was ready to take his team into 2018 and finish what they had started. Briggs started the season with the Real Monarchs, quickly shooting them up to the top of the table when they went 7-3-1 in their first 11 matches.
On May 29, 2018 Briggs was suspended from coaching following domestic violence charges made against him. During that time, former RSL defender Jamison Olave was named interim head coach for Real Monarchs for the remainder of the 2018 season. Ultimately these charges were dropped, but Briggs resigned from the club and has yet to sign with a new team.
Briggs does hope to continue coaching. He says that despite all the negative things that have hindered him, he sees his value as a coach.
“(I’d) like to think I’m an asset to a club,” he said. “My abilities as a coach and my history/experience as a player and now as a coach I hope can bring value to my next employer.”
In his time with the Monarchs, Briggs had the highest win percentage of any coach in club history and helped guide his team to their first ever trophy and playoff spot.
In hopes of finding a new coaching gig, Briggs does anticipate leaving Utah soon. He says that his daughter is number one priority, but that he also needs to be able to provide for her, which likely means leaving Utah to pursue a new opportunity with a new team.
“I’m sure at some point I am going to have to cross that bridge [leaving Utah] but my daughter will be a big part of that decision,” he said. “I’m sure she’ll be on board with whatever decision I have to make in the coming months, or hopefully weeks.
When asked about what he wants to say to those who supported and believed him, he said, “I’ll be forever grateful for you guys and whenever I see you guys around town while I’m still in town, always come and say hello. And if ever I do leave and come back here with another club, I’ll always come say hello and show my gratitude of the support you gave me.”