Ryan Burgher has resigned as head coach of the Foresters’ women’s soccer team. He is the winningest coach in Forester women’s soccer history and the search for his replacement has been launched.
“Coaching at Huntington was a great experience for me,” Burgher said. “I was able to work along side some amazing people and I wouldn’t trade my time at Huntington for anything. I really wish the best for all the girls, and for the next coach that comes in.”
Burgher met with the women’s soccer team on Feb. 11 and announced his impending resignation. He turned in his letter of resignation immediately after the meeting.
The athletic department did not try to stop him because he would not let them, he said.
“I put a lot of thought into my decision and it was not up for discussion,” he said. “If it would have been, I would not have quit. I felt peace with this decision, I knew it was the right thing to do.”
Burgher said many reasons influenced his decision to resign, but the biggest one was his new job. In August 2012, he accepted the position of Managing Director at The Village at Winona, a historic summer resort. He said that the position is very time consuming.
He said that while the coach is not always the most popular, the relationships he has built with the team was the best part of the job.
“I know being in a leadership position you aren’t always going to be the most popular person all the time,” Burgher sad, “but I believe that the girls know that I really do care about them, and would be there for them whenever, even now that I’m not at Huntington.”
Burgher spent five years at the helm of the Foresters and compiled a career record of 43-44-8. He is the winningest coach in Forester women’s soccer history, and led the team to its first winning record, first 10-win season and receiving its first votes in the NAIA Division II Coaches’ Poll.
His peers voted Burgher as the women’s soccer Mid-Central Conference Coach of the Year following the 2010 season. He thinks the team’s success will continue on despite his departure.
“This program is so much more than one person, player or coach, and it will continue to be a well respected program,” Burgher said.
Burgher came to Huntington after completing his undergraduate work at Grace College, when he was a four-year member and two-year captain of their men’s soccer team. He said that he will not give up coaching soccer despite leaving Huntington.
“I will continue to coach,” Burgher said. “I don’t have another job lined up at this moment. I have been contacted about a few different positions, I’m trying to figure out what would be the best fit at this time.”
Sophomore midfielder Kaitlyn Dreman said that she was not surprised to hear that Burgher was resigning because it seemed that other obligations made him unable to be completely committed to the team last season and could have taken the team further. She said that it will be important that the team continues to prepare itself for next season despite the head coach transition.
“The team needs to start focusing on next season regardless of who the coach will be,” she said. “We need to prepare as a team and as individuals to maximize our potential.”
The task now falls to the Athletic Department to replace Burgher. The position was posted on Feb. 18, and Lori Culler, athletic director, said they will wait a “couple of weeks” to allow candidates to apply before conducting interviews, though time is of the essence.
“We obviously would like to get someone hired as soon as possible to allow the new coach as much time as possible to recruit for next fall,” Culler said.
Burgher said that he has started the recruiting process, but it is a long, drawn-out process that the new coach will have to pick up shortly in order to be ready for next season.
“I have done some of the recruiting, but the new coach is absolutely going to have to recruit right away,” Burgher said. “I am usually still recruiting deep into summer for that year’s team.”
André Laird, currently assistant coach to the varsity team and head coach of the junior varsity team, is still planning on returning this fall. He said that he has enjoyed his time with the team and plans to apply for Burgher’s vacated position because he believes a returning coach makes a great candidate.
“As my belief in the potential the program has is still very high, I plan throw my hat in the ring and see what happens,” Laird said.