The Ripple Effect: How a Passionate Coach Impacts his Community

  • January 30, 2024

CAO’s Empowering Stories from Behind the Bench article series – Black History Month 2024

“If you want something badly, and you keep working hard, things have a way of working out for the best.”

By David Grossman

For Tristian Reid, a good chunk of his life has been fixated on willpower and determination.

Nothing has come easy for him including the arduous task of tackling frustration after frustration that involved repeated cases of him being the subject of rejection. Reid knows he’s not alone and, just like others, he has found ways to persevere.

While repudiation is something that can turn a person off, Reid has dug deep and moved on. After re-examining several turndowns, he has used each of them as a form of stimulation and a desire for achievement.

Articulate and well-spoken, Reid is aware that life can be full of challenges. Creative and focussed, the 33-year-old has embarked on a journey of accomplishing some incredible things.

Academically strong, stemming from those early years at Toronto’s Albert Campbell Collegiate, Reid has put together an educational resume that includes two degrees, a diploma, and a certificate.

First, it was a Bachelor’s degree in kinesiology at York University followed by a Masters in sports management and leadership at the University of Western Ontario. Tack on a diploma from Durham College in sport business management, and a certificate in project management from the University of Toronto.

His academic excellence far exceeds the educational accomplishments of the average Canadian.

As the second oldest of six siblings, Reid was raised in a family household. He remains inspired by the wishes of his mother to stay fixated on a career that utilizes his knowledge and experience while also contributing to society in a positive way.

“My mom always said to keep my name clean, avoid hanging with the wrong people and to work hard,” said Reid. “As a young person, I made some poor decisions – and I also learned quickly. I can remember there were times when my mom pushed me the right way – and I am grateful for that.”

For Reid, his values remain a priority.

As a youngster, he had dreams of working in sports medicine as an athletic therapist. They were replaced by a desire to further enhance his experience and leadership as a Director of Athletics at a Canadian post-secondary institution. Three times he didn’t get the job but remains steadfast and strong-willed that his time would come.

“Never give up,” said Reid, who is being featured by the Coaches Association of Ontario (CAO) during Black History Month. “If you want something badly, and you keep working hard, things have a way of working out for the best.”

Sports is something he enjoys. While his journey as an athlete started by playing community volleyball at the Milliken Park Community Recreation Centre, he still has disappointing vibes after coaches made decisions about rosters – that didn’t include him – on high school and university teams.

That didn’t stop him from enjoying the sport, adapting, building strong social skills, and meeting people. He went on to play recreationally at York and, at the age of 26, took the advice of friends to consider trying something different – coaching.

“Coaching started for me in 2016 at the Premier Volleyball Club,” said Reid. “I learned a great deal, moved on and now I am with the Phoenix Volleyball Club as a head coach. The focus is striving for excellence. It’s about developing world class athletes, scholars, and citizens.”

Most young people dream for the top, tinker with aspirations of college athletic scholarships, and one day competing for Canada on the international scene. Reid continues to emphasize that achievements happen in many ways.

“Success can just be learning with teammates, something that occurs in a game, a practise and not always amount to a championship,” said Reid, who has coached teams to numerous Ontario Volleyball Association (OVA) club medals. “For me, academics are a pillar of success, and the building moves on from there.”

Reid is also aware that sport has the power to change the world. For him, it’s also an opportunity to be an effective leader.

As a coach for some 10 years, Reid says there is no secret on what he can control as a team leader – and that includes emotions, negativity and commentary from parents, officials, players, and fans.

“I’ve seen coaches fly off the handle, parents who want more playing time for their children,” said Reid. “I see myself as a passionate and dynamic person and try to regulate my emotions.  I’ve learned a lot about active listening. That words can impact people in many ways, and I remain mindful of how I communicate and how we treat people.”

Reid believes in goal-setting – for his players and himself.

“It’s important – and so is being accountable,” he said. “I want people to understand that I work hard and am empathetic. There was a time when I didn’t think I had the power to change things. Now, I have been empowered to open doors, vocalize opinion on actionable change, and be a person people go to for advice.”

Inquisitive and all about learning, Reid is always looking to improve his knowledge. He benefitted from coaching courses conducted through a legacy program available during the last Pan Am Games held in Toronto.

In the summer of 2022, Reid had an opportunity to work with the Team Ontario beach volleyball program. Reid also devoted time, while working at the University of Guelph, to practising with the Gryphons men’s volleyball team. During the summer, he would be at Toronto’s Woodbine Beach, competing in beach volleyball, to push his skill set to the next level.

As for free time for Reid, it’s rare for him.

In addition to coaching, he’s an account director for a Toronto-based company called Live Gauge, whose website claims is a “leading authority in real-world marketing data solutions”.

Ask Reid for a better definition and he says it’s about bridging the gap between the digital and physical world as well as helping organizations make better decisions through consumer and marketing data.

He’s also on the Board of Directors for Inclusion in Canadian Sports Network (ICSN) – an organization that believes in racial equity in sports and in empowering Black, Indigenous and people of color in sports across the country. Somehow, Reid also finds time and the energy to offer consulting services to a variety of sports organizations across Canada.

This story, part of a series launched by the CAO, highlights coaches from across the province, salutes their achievements and dedication while committed to educating and bringing out the best in athletes of all ages.

Called “Empowering Coaches from Behind the Bench”, coaches – like Reid – are highlighted for their ability, commitment and loyalty in sport, social skills and so much more.

“I’m not a person to give up,” said Reid. “As a coach, I keep pushing and always looking for ways to make others better. Loyalty is important and I work with people who are part of my values, and we are building things together.

“Winning is great, you’ll never find a coach who is not out to win, but for me – long term character development and being a team builder of world class athletes and citizens are also very important.”


David Grossman is a veteran multi award-winning Journalist and Broadcaster with some of Canada’s major media, including the Toronto Star and SPORTSNET 590 THE FAN, and a Public Relations professional for 45+ years in Canadian sports and Government relations.

Winning is great, but for me – long term character development and being a team builder of world class athletes and citizens are also very important.”