Dale Burgman will probably coach at Butte High school for years to come.
The 59-year-old Burgman, however, will not be coaching the volleyball team any longer. Burgman resigned Wednesday morning, ending his seven-year tenure as the head coach of the Bulldogs.
Burgman turned in his resignation the morning after the Bulldogs fell in straight sets at Great Falls High in an Eastern AA playoff match. The Bulldogs finished the season at 2-18.
“It’s time,” Burgman said Wednesday evening. “I know deep down inside I don’t have the strength and the desire to do what needs to be done to change the culture of the volleyball program. I really don’t.”
Burgman said he hopes the next coach can rebuild the enthusiasm for the program.
“Hopefully they’ll get somebody who is young, maybe a young lady who can deal with the young ladies,” he said. “Hopefully she can change the culture and get the girls excited again.”
Chuck Merrifield, Butte High’s activities director, thanked Burgman for his tireless effort with the volleyball program.
“Nobody put in the time like he did,” Merrifield said. “Whether it was as a head coach or an assistant coach, he was always there.”
Merrifield praised Burgman for his work with the summer strength program and his availability for the athletes.
“If someone wanted open gym, he would open it,” Merrifield said. “It wouldn’t matter if it was one kid or 30 kids, he would be there to open the gym.”
This season was particularly tough on Burgman, who lost his son Kyle in an automobile accident just days before the start of practice.
“I’d like to say that it didn’t (bother me), but it did,” Burgman said, adding that he was overwhelmed by the statewide support he received. “We’d go to places and they’d do stuff for me.”
Burgman was also in obvious physical pain during the season. He put off surgery to replace a hip until after the season. He’ll undergo the procedure in the next week or two.
“It was a tough season on him in so many ways,” Merrifield said. “I don’t know how he did it.”
Burgman’s coaching days at Butte High are not done. He signed on to assist new head coach Luke Powers with the Bulldog boys’ basketball program.
Burgman will also continue to assist head coach Arie Grey on the Butte High track team. He says he likes the idea of not being the head man.
“If I screw up in basketball, Luke answers for it,” Burgman said with a laugh. “In track, Arie answers for it.”
Burgman once spent three years as the head girls’ basketball coach at Butte High. He also served stints as an assistant on the boys’ and girls’ basketball teams, as well as the Bulldog softball team.
He was never an assistant on the Bulldog football team, but he did coach at football at East Jr. High School, as it was called then, when he attended Western Montana College in Dillon.
Burgman even coached a swimming team for an AAU summer program in Scobey before he moved with his family to Butte.
“That is hilarious because I can’t swim,” Burgman said. “I would drown if you put me in the deep end for more than a minute. But we got third at state.”
While his resignation letter was turned in the morning after the season ended for the Bulldogs, Burgman said the decision was not a reactionary one.
“I think for the good of everybody it was the right decision,” he said.
Merrifield said he will have to get together with Superintendent Judy Jonart and Human Resources Director Therese McClafferty to formulate a game plan to hire Burgman’s replacement.
The AD said he hates to lose Burgman as a head coach.
“He’s a great one,” Merrifield said. “The kids are going to miss him.” 1 comment