Long-serving Chestermere teacher, coach receives Diamond Platinum Jubilee Medal
Utley said his passion for high school sports has never wavered over the years and has kept him involved for over four decades.
Retired Chestermere High School teacher and coach Brian Utley was honored on December 12 when he received a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Platinum Jubilee Award during a presentation at the MNP Sports Center in Calgary.
Utley was one of 25 Albertans to receive the medal at the ceremony, all nominated based on their achievements and services to their respective sports. In addition to Utley, recipients included Olympic gold medalist Mark Tewksbury, Olympic silver medalist Cheryl Bernard, and former Calgary Stampeders president Stan Schwartz, among others.
The longtime Chestermere Cowboys head coach said he was nominated by former Cochrane Cobras football coach Bruce O’Neil, who also recently retired after a decade-long career as a high school coach and teacher – albeit on the other Side of Rocky View District.
“That meant a lot that it came from a different coach,” Utley said. “I was very grateful to Bruce for that.”
After playing in the Canadian Football League during his own football season, Utley began his career as a physical education teacher at Chestermere High School in 1979. It was a role he retained for 37 years before retiring at the end of the 2015-16 school year.
During his nearly four decade teaching career, he was also head coach of the school’s football team – the Chestermere Cowboys – until the end of the 2016 football season.
During his coaching career, Utley helped raise funds to improve Chestermere High School’s $800,000 athletic field. Improvements included the installation of floodlights, a spotter box, a scoreboard, new football standards, proper football goals and stands. The field was renamed Utley Field in 2009 in honor of the longtime coach.
Despite officially filing the whistle five years ago (although he even helped coach Chestermere High’s girls’ basketball team as recently as last season), Utley remains deeply involved in the local high school athletics. He is currently the commissioner of the Rocky View Sports Association (RVSA), which coordinates athletics for the Rocky View Schools Division.
“I’m also the girls’ basketball officer [RVSA and South Central Zone],” he said. “You’re so busy that you have something to do and you’re still involved.”
He has also campaigned with local governing bodies over the years for the installation of an artificial turf pitch at Chestermere High School, although this project has met many obstacles. In the summer of 2021, he submitted plans worth $750,000 to RVS trustees to modernize the locker rooms at Utley Field.
Utley said his passion for high school athletics has never wavered over the years and has kept him involved for over four decades.
“I really love high school sports,” he said. “I think it’s something special for kids to be able to represent their high school and their community.”
He added that the relationships he has formed with his athletes is another aspect he enjoys.
“I enjoyed being a part of it,” he said. “I think another big part of that is development. By the time kids enter college or university, they’ve already had a lot of development. In high school they really started to develop their skills in football, basketball or other sports.
“I also enjoyed my time as sports coordinator for RVS and organized other sports. But I’ve always thought that university sport is something different than community or club sport. I have great respect for high school athletics.”
The Diamond Platinum Jubilee Medals were created this year to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the late Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the throne. The awards are representative of the Queen’s lifelong commitment to service and were distributed to deserving recipients throughout 2022.
“It’s just an honor that it’s on behalf of the Queen,” Utley said. “I was lucky enough to see the Queen in Victoria in 1971. Receiving this recognition on behalf of the Queen makes it even more special. I will never forget that.”