Brant Stachel gains national recognition for work in Kingston

Gaels cross country assistant coach dedicated to future with Queen’s, local runners 

Stachel joined the cross country team as a volunteer assistant coach in 2012.
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Most of Brant Stachel’s young coaching career has been spent in the shadows. The cross country team’s assistant coach has often found the time for others—but now, he’s finding it for himself. 

This year, Stachel has been adding to his already budding resume. The 28-year-old, while coaching a handful of Queen’s and local Kingston athletes, was named head coach to Team Canada at the 2018 International University Sport Federation (FISU) Cross Country Championships. In June, he was also named head coach to Team Ontario East’s track and field team for the upcoming Ontario Summer Games.

A St. Lawrence College graduate, Stachel has been with the Gaels as an assistant coach since 2012. He first started in coaching after returning home from two years at Humber College, when he asked Queen’s cross country Head Coach Steve Boyd if he could assist on a volunteer basis with the team.

“I still wanted to stay in running and thought I’d try coaching and see if [Boyd] could use another set of hands,” Stachel said in an interview with The Journal. “It kind of worked and evolved from there.”

Since then, his role has developed and turned him into one of the country’s top cross country and track and field coaches. Quickly finding his stride as a coach after four years of competing at the collegiate level, Stachel worked tirelessly alongside Boyd to close gaps that could help Queen’s improve the program.

“Each year it kind of snowballed,” he said, reflecting on the team’s previous culture of partying during the season, which they have since erased with a no-drinking policy. “We’d fix one gap and then look at others.”

Now, with a strong team culture and continued success on both the men’s and women’s teams, Stachel and Boyd are looking at the larger gaps they wish to close in the next two years.

“Now we’re looking at bigger issues this year like sustainability and just asking, ‘How do we get our athletes to the next level?’” he said, adding the lack of a full-time coach within the program has limited its consistency. Cross country is the last varsity team at Queen’s to not have a full-time coach.

Alongside his major contributions to the University, Stachel has become a massive proponent for Kingston’s youth running scene. 

In addition to working closely with the Gaels, he heads Kingston’s Junior Running Program alongside a cross country development group that serves students who can’t meet varsity standards but wish to train in a high-performance environment. In the past year, a number of his athletes have made national teams and travelled across the world to compete. 

With such a breadth of talent coming from under his wing, Stachel’s philosophy on running has evolved and created an immensely inclusive environment—something he takes distinct meaning from.

“I really see running as an ability for anybody,” Stachel said. “It doesn’t matter what level you are; [my goal is] to work on positive characteristics that are going to help them [develop] on the human side.”

With this mindset, Stachel’s been working to bring runners together as a collective whole, rather than a sum of parts. In the next few years, he hopes to work with elementary and high schools to provide a direct running stream for local youth. In addition, he wants to see his development group grow to over 100 runners across the Kingston community.

“[My goal is] creating opportunities for athletes who want to be better, [and] giving them an opportunity to do that.”

While Stachel’s built himself an array of exciting coaching opportunities, his intentions for the future are unwaveringly dedicated to bolstering Queen’s and Kingston’s running scenes.

“I think if we can build all these groups together we can see national champions training in the same environment as someone trying to break 20 minutes for 5K,” Stachel said. 

“We can create a really cool running center for Kingston if we achieve those goals over the next five years.”

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