Shawn Pittman Named MLR Coach Of The Year, Utah Warriors Remove Interim Tag
HERRIMAN, Utah – The Utah Warriors announced today that they have successfully agreed to terms with Shawn Pittman to retain his services as the team’s head coach. The move comes in conjunction with Major League Rugby’s announcement that Pittman has been named the 2021 MLR Coach of the Year.
Pittman, who joined the Warriors in 2019 as an assistant coach to then head coach Chris Latham, stepped in to lead the Warriors during the 2021 season after Latham’s abrupt departure from the club earlier this year.
Although Pittman was tapped as Interim Head Coach for the 2021 season, he was able to lead the team to a 10-6 regular season record – the most wins in a single season in franchise history – and was one of the MLR’s highest-scoring teams in the league with 519 total points. Pittman also led the Warriors to an appearance in the MLR Western Conference Final, the second such postseason appearance since the Warrior’s inception in 2018. Thanks to Pittman’s leadership and coaching, the Warriors broke through a very competitive conference and league to narrowly miss out on the MLR Championship.
In recognition of his tremendous success during the 2021 season, Major League Rugby honored Pittman as their 2021 Coach of the Year, the league announced Thursday. An honor that Utah Warriors General Manager Brandon Sparks is well earned.
“Shawn’s leadership this past season was absolutely incredible,” said Sparks. “It was not an easy position to be in, with a sudden coaching change, and he managed it masterfully. This is a well earned honor for him and we are excited to have him leading our organization.”
Emblematic of the team’s on-going success, the Warriors also saw six players promoted to national team duties, five with the USA Eagles and one with Rugby Canada, during Pittman’s short time as Interim Head Coach.
Pittman, who began his playing career in the Pacific Northwest, was one of America’s first European professional players in his chosen position of prop. Following a successful playing career, Pittman would go on to coaching various roles and capacities including with the Seattle Seawolves in their inaugural 2018 season as well as a five year stint as USA Eagles assistant coach overseeing the forwards and set piece, which included a 2019 Rugby World Cup coaching experience.
The newly-appointed head coach said he’s grateful for the opportunity to continue to lead the Warriors.
“My family and I are very excited about our future in Utah and can’t thank the management and ownership enough for their support over the last 6 months,” said Pittman. “The players have created something great and I look forward to another amazing season ahead of us.”
Sparks echoed Pittman’s excitement and said the Warriors are in good hands with the likes of Pittman and the rest of the Utah Warriors coaching staff.
“We have four core values of Community, Family, Tradition, and Respect represented by our Four Stripes here at the Warriors and Shawn represents all of them extremely well,” said Sparks. “His passion for working with the community is an example to the rest of the MLR, he is an amazing father to his kids which aids in him building a family environment within our team, treats everyone with respect, and honors existing traditions as well as build new ones. There is no one better to lead the Utah Warriors than Shawn Pittman and he is going to be a great ambassador for how good an American born coach can be in professional rugby.”
The Utah Warriors coaches and team leadership are already at work preparing for the 2022 season as they turn their attention to player contracting, recruitment and the MLR College Draft, which will be broadcast next week, Thursday, August 19th, beginning at 4:30 PM MDT on FS2.