Scott Burger named Area 2 Athletic Director of the Year
Positive. Hardworking. Compassionate. Patient. Selflessness. These are just a few of the words that are used to describe Sabetha High School Athletic Director and Coach, Scott Burger. These characteristics – and more – are why Scott was named Area 2 Athletic Director of the Year by the Kansas Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (KIAAA).
Prairie Hills USD No. 113 Superintendent Todd Evans announced the award during the Monday, March 14, school board meeting. During the meeting, Evans said he believes Burger deserves this honor because he is “the hardest working athletic director in the state of Kansas.”
Former Sabetha High School teacher, coach and athletic director, Marvin Kohlmeier agreed with Evan’s comment.
“I read the quote Todd Evans had at the school board meeting, about him being the hardest working AD in Kansas, and that is not an exaggeration,” Kohlmeier said. “The thing I’ve always admired about him is his work ethic, his attention to detail and his servant-hood. For example, he leads the crew that volunteers to paint lines on the football field and he doesn’t just delegate. He’s right out there with them painting those lines and making sure it’s done right. He leads by example.”
While Scott has not always been the athletic director at Sabetha, his experience with education and athletics is what has shaped him into the athletic director and leader he is today.
Road to Athletic director
Scott attended high school at Valley Heights in Blue Rapids, Kan. Then, he attended Emporia State University for one year and Kansas State University (KSU) for three years, majoring in business education. He graduated with his bachelors degree in 1984. Then, he earned his masters degree in administration from KSU in the mid 1990s.
Sabetha was Scott’s first and only teaching assignment straight out of college in 1984.
“He did not necessarily plan to be here forever, but quickly made friends and connections, and became a part of the school and community,” said his wife, Tresa Burger. “He loves this town and school, and has worked hard to set and maintain standards of excellence in all facilities and activities.”
In 1984, Scott began teaching and coaching at Sabetha High School. Throughout the years, he has taught multiple business classes including accounting one, accounting two, business law, word processing, typing, entrepreneurship and personal finance.
According to T. Burger, personal finance is his favorite class to teach, because “he is able to teach real life skills that everyone needs to know to be an adult, including budgeting, taxes, loans and interest, buying houses and cars, insurance, planning vacations and weddings, etc.”
As for coaching duties, Scott has coached freshman boys’ basketball, assistant high school track, boys’ and girls’ cross country, varsity girls’ basketball, varsity boys’ basketball, and varsity golf.
In regards to coaching basketball, Kohlmeier said Scott was always a “good guy on the bench,” and knew he would make a good coach when Scott first started at Sabetha.
“Scott of course played basketball and I needed a freshman coach, and Tom Palmer was my assistant at the time,” Kohlmeier said. “So, Scott was always just a good guy on the bench that I kind of depended upon as – even though he was a freshman coach – he just had a good mind for watching a game and knowing the moves to make and the scheme and the pattern to address to change things. I really depended upon him a lot. I always liked to have a coach to give me input. Then, as the athletic director, I recommended him eventually to become the head girls’ basketball coach, when that job opened up.”
T. Burger said Scott took over the varsity girls’ basketball team in 1990 and coached his first game when their first child, Josh, was five days old.
“They got second place at State in 4A that year,” T. Burger said.
Other coaching accomplishments include a girls’ cross country state championship in 1988, girls’ basketball state championship in 1997, and two state championships in golf in 2018 and 2019. He also has taken many teams to state, where the teams have placed second through fourth.
Athletic Director impact
With multiple years of coaching and teaching under his belt, Scott added to his list of duties at Sabetha High School and became the athletic director in 2009.
Duties of the athletic director include scheduling all activities in the high school, including all sports, music, drama and scholars bowl, and complying with all league and state guidelines. It also involves hiring coaches, managing the school activities budget, ordering uniforms and equipment, finding help to run the events (gate, scoring, officiating), organizing team transportation, working with community organizations for meals at games, working with the Booster Club, organizing fund raising (e.g., Booster Club Golf Tournament), hosting regional and sub-state events, as well as attending all home events and as many away events as possible.
“Throughout the fall and winter, this means several weeknights as well as most weekends,” T. Burger said. “There have been many days that he will drive from a tennis meet, to a cross country meet, and then to a volleyball game in one day. Sometimes that means getting home at 10:30 or 11 p.m. after coaching a basketball game, and then getting up and driving to wrestling first thing Saturday morning for a meet all day long.”
While Scott’s days – and to-do list – are long, he has continued to uphold the characteristics that make him the “hardest working athletic director.”
“Over the years, I have come to respect Mr. Burger as an athletic director and as an individual because of numerous characteristics,” Superintendent Evans said. “Those qualities that make him a good person are also those traits that make him a great athletic director. Mr. Burger is a positive individual. Especially during difficult times, this quality helps to elevate everyone’s attitude, expectations for themselves and responsiveness to situations. Mr. Burger puts in many more hours than the minimum. He models the work ethic that we expect of our coaches and student athletes. He has also modeled and shared the expectation of high ethical standards.”
“Scott Burger is a true example of what it takes to be a high school Athletic/Activities director,” said Sabetha High School Principal David Glynn. “He is patient, kind, understanding and fair. In addition, Mr. Burger is a true professional. He is organized, thinks through every situation and is a willing listener. Coach Burger has a student focus. Every decision he makes is centered around what is best for young people.”
“Coach Burger embraces every day with a positive outlook,” Glynn continued saying. “This trait permeates throughout the building and into the variety of successful programs that he oversees. The integrity with which our coaches operate and the attitudes and sportsmanship demonstrated by student-athletes are all in response to what Scott offers through his role at Sabetha High School.”
Sabetha High School’s Head Softball Coach Clayton Tennal said Scott is “highly deserving of this award” for multiple reasons.
“If there’s an event needed to be taken care of he is always willing to pursue whatever means it takes to get the job done,” Tennal said. “He is always interested in the students and their success in life even after they graduate.”
“He is competitive, hardworking mindset follows the rules and respects his opponents,” said Coach Josh Wertenberger.
“He is a very humble person that does so much without looking for the recognition,” said Head Cheer Coach Kay Duncan. “Mr. Burger as athletic director has been so supportive with coaches. I coach multiple sports and he’s always there to support and answer my questions. He puts a lot on himself, so I as a coach can do my job and know he supports me in my decisions. His attitude towards his student athletes is a team and family oriented approach. He wants his kids to be successful, but also do it in a non-boasting or show off way.”
“Coach Burger understands the coaching role from the administration side,” said Sabetha Head Tennis Coach Alicia Deters. “One of the most positive individuals I have worked with. Never an unkind word and always has a smile on his face.”
“Scott’s greatest characteristic is his perpetually positive attitude,” said Head Girls’ Basketball Coach Nate Bauman. “He loves Sabetha High School and he loves seeing our students involved in extra curricular activities. He is all about providing those opportunities for our kids.”
Coach Bauman said that one of the many examples showing the type of person Scott is happened just last summer.
“We had our basketball court repainted and finished,” Coach Bauman said. “The gentleman who was doing the work was from Missouri but was in Sabetha for several weeks to complete the job. Scott saw this and invited him to his house for dinner, not just once, but multiple times. The gentleman said that in over 20 years of doing his work, he had never had anyone invite him to their home. Scott did the same thing for me when I first came to Sabetha over 20 years ago, and I know he has done the same for many others. He is a man of faith, who lives that faith out on a daily basis in the way he treats other people, and we are so fortunate to have him as Mr. Bluejay!”
“The old adage of ‘above and beyond the call of duty’ is an understatement when it comes to Scott Burger,” said Sabetha High School Volleyball Coach Abigail Stueve. “This man embodies selflessness, consideration, compassion, loyalty and passion on an unmeasurable scale. Scott has always supported me as a young coach at this tradition rich school. Something that goes under appreciated is the fact that Scott puts more forethought and self reflection into every decisions he makes that it fosters a community of complete trust within the system. His attitude of patience, loyalty and trust really does role model for anyone who works with or for him.”
Multiple coaches and administrators said Scott goes “above and beyond the call of duty,” especially when scheduling games and hosting post season events.
“Scott has been selfless about hosting post-season activities, even though these activities create additional duties for him,” said Superintendent Evans. “Every year when I ask if Sabetha High School formally applied to KSHSAA to host events such as sub-state volleyball, regional cross country, etc., I am told without hesitation, ‘Yes, it’s good for the kids and good for the community.’ Instead of asking, ‘What’s in it for me?’ It is refreshing to know that we have role models in our schools who show that they are willing to go the extra mile because, ‘It’s good for kids and the community.’”
“He is willing to do any job to help Sabetha athletes succeed,” Wertenberger said. “Mr. Burger will submit to host sub-state and regional contests to give our athletes the best opportunity to succeed despite the extra work it requires of himself.”
“Scott never does anything halfway,” said Sabetha Head Wrestling Coach Ricky Creek. “When we host a dual or a tournament, everything is top notch; it’s organized, planned out, rehearsed and goes off without a hitch! He also is quick to say, ‘yes’ to the request to add more events and get our wrestlers on the mat as much as possible. He has been a big supporter of the growth of our wrestling team and truly trying to get kids in the right sport for them to have as much success as possible. For example, some kids wants to wrestle, but should be in basketball and some in basketball that need to wrestle. He has also given lots of advice and knowledge on how to get over the hump to take the team from good to great, and how we can utilize different parts of the schedule, practice and off season to get the most out of our athletes.”
“Scott is the hardest working athletic director I have ever been around!” said Coach Alex McAfee. “He is constantly on the move, not only leading, but doing whatever is necessary to host an event at SHS [Sabetha High School]! No task is too big or too small, he finds/makes time to prepare our facilities to host athletic events. He does this all while being the head boys’ basketball coach and golf coach! I’m not sure how many years he has been the athletic director at Sabetha, but he has maintained this excellence over many years!”
“Coach Burger is extremely deserving of this honor,” Coach Bauman said. “He works extremely hard on the day-to-day operations of an athletic department, but more importantly he works extremely hard to provide opportunities for our student-athletes. He volunteers our facilities for nearly every post season competition, so that our athletes and teams have a chance to compete on their home court, field or course, it gives them the best opportunity to advance. The number of volunteers and organization this takes requires an incredible amount of work and hours for Coach Burger.”
In order to ensure that students have the best opportunity in their athletics, Evans and Kohlmeier said Burger has always supported all athletics, not just the ones he coaches.
“Mr. Burger has supported all sports and activities that our kids are involved in,” Evans said. “He hasn’t just supported those he has coached, but has made extra efforts to show his support for all activities.”
“Scott has always been a team player,” Kohlmeier said. “When you’re a head coach in one area, you always want to be sure you don’t bias yourself to your own sport. I worked really hard at always trying to support the individual sports, like cross country and golf and track, and not just pay attention to my sport. He’s the same kind of guy. He’s just really for Sabetha High School and our community, and for all of our kids to do well in every activity and every sport. He’s not biased or prejudice toward his own sport.”
Former Nemaha Valley teacher and Coach Mike Terpening recently wrote the following in an article about Scott in the Seneca Courier-Tribune.
“Scott it always a gentleman while coaching!” Terpening said.
Favorite “Boog” Moments
Multiple coaches and friends shared their favorite memories and moments of Scott.
“My memory is of him as my basketball coach when I was in high school my junior, senior years,” Coach Duncan said. “‘Boog,’ as he’s been called for years, has been a role model for many. His love of sports shows from generation to generation, being girls’ basketball coach with me to coaching my sons more recently.”
“My favorite memory of Scott is if you talk to him outside of his office, he wants everything written down to him in a text. ‘Send me a text,’ he’ll say, so he doesn’t forget,” Coach Tennal said.
“My favorite memory would just be his success as a basketball and golf coach, teacher and our athletic director, all at the same time!” Coach McAfee said. “He is a great guy that loves helping kids and the Sabetha community!”
“What I appreciate most is Scott’s ability to create a sense of calm in high-pressure situations,” Glynn said. “He is a sound decision-maker and an individual others look to for support, advice and encouragement. Scott’s most enduring traits are his humility and his desire to serve others. He is a good guy.”
“He comes to the tennis match at Hayden every year, always bringing his lawn chair and Sonic drink and telling me how much fun he is having,” Coach Deters said.
Kohlmeier gave multiple memories of Scott that have stuck with him over the years, such as a touching memory and a more “fun” memory.
“My last year of teaching and coaching at Sabetha High School, Scott’s son Josh – during the middle of an undefeated girls’ basketball season, who was ranked number one in the state – was diagnosed with leukemia,” Kohlemeier said. “There was a brand new assistant coach, first-year physical education teacher and assistant girls’ basketball coach coaching with him. He asked me if I would be willing to assist her during the time he needed to spend with Josh down in Kansas City, and if possible, he would try to return for games. I just remember all of that period of how supportive he was of his son and his family, more importantly than basketball. It was an honor for me to maybe just fill in and be there for a support for the first-year teacher and coach who would have all that pressure of an undefeated and number one ranked team. Then, when he would come for the games, I was relieved. I got to be a part of that number one ranked girls’ undefeated team and I would say that was one of the most joyous times in terms of supporting Scott and his crucial time with Josh. I was just so thankful that he was so devoted to his boy and his family, above basketball, even with having this team that was outstanding. That was a lot of admiration from me for him.”
Then, Kohlmeier said they have plenty of memories from being “golfing buddies” over the years, but one story stood out.
“We were playing on hole number seven,” Kohlmeier said. “Before we teed off, he turned to me and said, ‘Marvin, I’ve always told Jesse that it would just really be fun to get my seventh hole-in-one on the seventh hole with a seven iron,’ and I thought ‘Yeah, that would be fun.’ It was getting dark and he hit that shot and we were down there looking around the green for the ball and then, finally we went to the cup and there the ball was in the cup. That’s one of the fun memories.”
Then jokingly, Kohlmeier said he was jealous of Scott’s honor.
“I’m kind of jealous, because my last year I was named runner up Big Seven League Athletic Director of the Year, not area, but league,” Kohlmeier said. “There are eight teams and there was a seven-way tie for first. So, I’m kind of jealous.”
According to T. Burger, in addition to his formal coaching at Sabetha High School, Scott has also coached summer basketball teams in MAYB and the NEK summer league, as well as various other tournaments every summer.
“He began hosting an MAYB tournament in Sabetha and Holton in the late 1990s for many years,” T. Burger said. “This brought anywhere from 40-90 teams into the local area, and brought a lot of business to the restaurants and hotels of the community. The COVID-19 year was the first year not hosting. He ran the boys NEK summer league for several years. He organizes and runs the Biddy Ball program every winter, with the high school ball players coaching the little kid teams and officiating the games. He has sponsored countless summer camps and clinics over the years, and also coached an assortment of summer community recreation league teams over the years.”
T. Burger also said Scott has been recognized for different accomplishments, including KBCA coach of the year after winning GBB State in 1997. He has been honored twice with the Kansas Coach’s Courage Recognition award, while their son, Josh, was going through leukemia treatment. He also reached 500 varsity basketball wins in 2019.
Scott also has been involved in many large projects, such as when the new high school gym was built, the track was resurfaced, fundraising and designing the new press box at the football field, and beginning the baseball, softball and girls’ wrestling programs.