Brian Willmer enters his 15th season on the Cougar coaching staff, his 8th as the defensive coordinator.
Willmer joined former head coach Peter Shinnick's Cougar staff in 1999, and has developed into a central figure in the program. He has worked with current head coach Victor Santa Cruz for the past thirteen years in a variety of different roles. He has coached all defensive positions, coordinated special teams, directed football operations, and organized all of Azusa Pacific's football recruiting efforts over his tenure. Currently, he is the assistant head coach/defensive coordinator (overseeing the linebackers). In the past, he also directed Azusa Pacific's football recruiting efforts.
Over the past decade plus, at Azusa Pacific, Willmer has personally coached NAIA All-Americans Stephen Holte (LB, 2004 & 2005), who holds the school's single-season record for tackles, and Nate Farris (2003), who led the NAIA in punt returns in 2003. In 2012, he coached Tyler Thornton, who was Azusa Pacific's first All-Great Northwest Athletic Conference defensive back. He has helped lead Azusa Pacific to multiple playoff appearances including coaching twice in the NAIA semifinals.
A four-year letterman at UCLA (under former head coaches Terry Donohue and Bob Toledo) and captain of the 1997 team, Willmer established himself as the Bruins' top linebacker during his 1996 junior and 1997 senior seasons when he led the team in tackles both years. He registered an impressive 102 takedowns in 1996 and was named UCLA's defensive MVP. That was the same season he collected a career-high 15 tackles vs. Michigan (12 solo) and Arizona (14 solo). He had 22 tackles in a pair of games against the Peyton Manning-led Tennessee Volunteers. He was a two-time honorable mention All-Pac-10 linebacker.
Willmer, 38, graduated from UCLA in 1997 with a bachelor's degree in political science and went on to earn a master's degree in higher education and organizational change from UCLA in 1998. He currently teaches in Azusa Pacific's exercise and sports science program teaching senior seminar classes (ethics in sports) and health education classes.
Brian and his wife, Lindsay, a former All-American swimmer at UCLA, reside in Glendora, Calif., with their daughters, Emma (10), and Addie Joy (8), son Titus (5) and twins Gwenyth (3) and Nehemiah (3).