Dan Burgess finally gets his life back but he better get use to his coaching commitment extending to early December each year.
The architect of the girls volleyball program at South Delta secondary school was on the bench last week, providing support for senior coach Sandra Nash at the B.C. "AAAA" Championships in North Vancouver where the Sun Devils managed a 10th place finish with a roster that has just three Grade 12 players.
Days earlier, Burgess was in charge of a dominant junior girls team that capped an outstanding season by winning the provincial championships in Richmond.
That squad lost just one match all season, a result it easily avenged against Langley Fundamental in the gold medal game with a straight set win. Even better news was the team's starting six featured four Grade 9s including the outstanding McNamara twins - Megan and Nicole - who were named the tournament co-MVPs. They are expected to join Grade 10 provincial all-star Christine Howlett and jump up to the senior ranks next season where they will team up with Grade 11 standouts Emma Robinson, Sheima Rezai, Hunter McLean and Emma Glennon to give the Devils a formidable starting six. All seven girls are part of an elite volleyball program being run out of the Olympic Oval in Richmond.
Still, Burgess, who is very likely headed to the senior team as well, suggests winning the school's first-ever B.C. volleyball title is hardly a guarantee.
"You just have to look at the (provincial) final standings to realize how tough it's going to be," he said.
"Three of the top six teams were from the Fraser Valley (zone) and five of the top six at the juniors were Valley teams. (Fourth place finisher) Heritage Woods was basically an entire Grade 11 team so they will probably be the team we are shooting for.
"I think we have the potential to be a top three team in the Valley and a solidly a top eight team in the province. We'll see what happens from there."
The Sun Devils entered the junior provincials coming off their first loss of the season, a five set heartbreaker to Langley Fundamental in the Fraser Valley. They dropped the final set 15-12.
The result only provided extra motivation heading to Richmond and South Delta steamrolled its way through pool play and eventually to the semi-finals where it took care of Valley rival Earl Marriott in straight sets. The stage was set for the rematch with Langley and the Devils pulled out a 25-23 victory in the opening game before sweeping the best-of-three affair with a decisive 25-16 result.
The locals tweaked their strategy for the final, adding a libero (defensive specialist) into their rotation for the first time this season. The move paid off with Anika Klassen thriving in the position.
Girls volleyball is not only successful at SDSS but popular too. The junior program attracted a whopping 24 players - enough to operate a separate Grade 9 team that competed in tournaments. Most will continue to hone their skills over the winter as club volleyball gets underway.
When all was said and done, the junior team won the district and provincial titles, along with four tournaments.
Joining Burgess on the coaching staff and pouring in an equal amount of volunteer hours were Heather Loiselle, Anne Howlett and Sean Carlson.
The junior roster also included: Grade 10s: Courtney Bogress, Emily Lawson, Samantha Loiselle, Sabrian Posehn, Lauren Shirley and Laura Watt.
Grade 9s: Leah Burns, Meiguen Bitcher, Marta Cimoszko, Laura Findlay, McKenzie Gray, Jessia Hasker, Kylie Holliday, Nicole Howlett, Sydney Lowe, Dani McCardell, Zoe Mydansky, Cassidy Pearson and Maria Starko.