Coach for All Seasons
Bryan Burney has spent 25 years coaching and teaching other people's kids
Joseph Elerson | News-Telegram Sports Writer

July 10, 2004 -- For Sulphur Springs resident Bryan Burney, coaching has been in his blood since he was in high school.

He always wanted to be a high school basketball coach, but instead of coaching for a state championship every year, Burney now coaches a much smaller team.

Burney has been a youth coach in Little Dribblers basketball, youth baseball, soccer and flag football for the past 25 years.

In 1980, Burney was asked to help start a brand new Little Dribblers league, and he has now been running the organization for the past 15 years.

The Optimist Club started with four teams and 32 boys playing at Sulphur Springs Middle School and now the league has grown to 30 boys and girls teams of around 250 players each season.

"I helped them get a fifth- and sixth-grade Little Dribbler's team started since we had not had that at all in the past. They were involved with it for about 10 years where I was coaching and helping them run it, and then I took over after that," Burney said.

Bryan has had the opportunity to coach all three of his sons in youth sports starting with his two older sons, Kyle and Zach, in baseball and basketball.

Burney said both of his boys started playing baseball in Farm League and then started playing on select teams, traveling to the Metroplex and beyond to play in leagues and tournaments.

"Every other year they were on the same team, and we were able to win some city championship in baseball," Burney said. "There is nothing like getting to coach your kids, and now Alex is starting his second year of minor league," Burney said.

Alex and Bryan will be returning to the state tournament this season after their 9-year-old All-Star team won the Dixie district tournament.

With a passion for coaching kids, Burney knows this is the best job he could have as a coach and some years he has to coach four or five teams because there are not enough coaches in the basketball league.

"I love working with kids and this has just worked out perfectly with the job I have to be able to work for myself and it gives me the time I need to be able to coach," Burney said.

Burney said the league gets a lot of support from the school district in getting gym time for the 30-plus teams in the league, as they play their season during the Sulphur Springs basketball season from November through March.

Bryan said he gets a lot of support from his wife, Sharon, whom he met when he was coaching a Pony League baseball game at age 17, his first coaching job.

"This coaching job has taken alot of our time, and she is super and travels with me all of the time. She is right by me and she just loves this," Burney said.

His coaching philosophy is he tries to determine how good a player can be and how to get that player to that point.

Burney said if he gets a player with the drive, the desire, the hustle, and the attitude, he would love to have them on the team.

During his coaching career, Burney has seen 12 of his players receive college scholarships, and two of his players have made in the MLB draft and have been picked by teams.

"Walt Mannon helped me coach a select team for about five years and off of that team everyone of them received a scholarship. Phillip Humber played three years on the team and was a first-round pick for the New York Mets in this year's draft," Burney said.

Humber was the winning pitcher in the College World Series for the Rice Owls last year, and then two-years ago Colt Griffin was the No. 9 pick in the draft by the Kansas City Royals.

With all of his experience, Burney knows there are many more great experiences to come as a coach and wondered what could have happened if he was a high school coach instead of a youth coach until receiving a great comment from his youngest son.

"I was thinking back about how it would be if I ever coached in a state championship game and to be a coach, and Alex looked at me and said, 'Dad, you are a coach,' and he was right because even though I don't coach the big guys I coach the little guys, Burney said. "You just hope that you can make some sort of difference in their lives."

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