Maddie Gates knew change was a common facet of high school sports, but this was getting ridiculous.
The Boulder senior joined the Panthers girls basketball squad as a freshman, and it has been nothing but a revolving door of coaches ever since. Gates has had more head coaches than years she's played on the team.
Four seasons. Six coaches.
"It is one of those here-we-go-again things," Gates said. "Every year towards the end of the season, I see that we're starting to progress, because each year we had to start over.
"So every year, it seems like there is light at the end of the tunnel, like this is it. Then with all the changes, it's just kind of frustrating, because our team has so much potential."
To the credit of Panthers players, they haven't taken it out on the new guy.
Ron Burgin strolled into the gym with more swagger -- at least from a resume standpoint -- than many of his predecessors. Burgin won a Class 5A state title with ThunderRidge in 2003, was a CU women's basketball assistant for a season and had an immensely successful five-year stint at Arapahoe.
He also spent time at Smoky Hill and, last season, coached Standley Lake. But when Burgin gives the "I want to be here" line, it's not just smoke and mirrors.
"I kind of always wanted to be in Boulder," Burgin said. "It was the first job that I applied for in Colorado, 11 years ago now. I didn't get it, so I ended up at ThunderRidge, which worked out OK."
Burgin made the latter comment with a laugh, as he landed at ThunderRidge when the Waner sisters, Abby and Emily, were starring for the Grizzlies and went on to play for Duke. Minnesota star-to-be Emily Fox also was on the roster.
"That worked out fine, but I have two brothers that live in Boulder and Boulder's always been the place I would like to be," he said. "It was open and available, I applied for it, and it just worked out."
Boulder players undoubtedly are eager for some stability. Burgin is inheriting the Panthers (9-16 last season) at the right time, too. While starting center Ande Lampert graduated after an injury-plagued senior season, virtually everyone else is back.
That includes leading scorer Lena Jaycox, a point guard who transferred from Mountain Vista before last season and gave the Panthers a bona fide offensive threat. She topped the 20-point mark five times, including a 30-point performance in a narrow loss to Monarch (which went on to a runner-up finish in 5A).
Burgin always has employed a run-and-gun, up-tempo system, and the players are onboard as he brings it to Boulder.
"Having another coach was of course a challenge for us, but Coach's fast-pace way of playing the game will be very good for us," Jaycox said. "Our personnel fits it well with us being a pretty deep team. So far we haven't mastered it, but come season and our first tournament, I think we'll have it down."
Burgin said he absolutely believes this squad is among the top three he's coached. That includes the Waner-led Grizzlies (clearly No. 1) and some exceedingly solid Arapahoe squads.
At Arapahoe, Burgin coached CU soccer player Amy Barczuk, who was one of the state's finest guards.
"I think they're excited about what we're doing," Burgin said. "I have eight seniors and they've been through a lot, and I feel like they're ready for a good year."
Burgin and his assistants have noticed one positive from the nonstop coaching carousel: The girls can learn a new system rather quickly. And why not?
When Gates walked into the gym as a freshman in late 2009, Dynelle Tadlock was the coach. She resigned midseason and Sara Klippert finished the season as an interim coach.
Terry Gallagher was hired in the offseason, but resigned a few weeks later and former CU assistant Aisha Veasley stepped in. She took the Panthers to the Sweet 16 in 2010-11 before resigning.
Then Chris Mischke served a one-year stint last season before also resigning, citing the desire to focus on his family. Burgin was chosen amongst what was described by Boulder athletic director Melissa Warfield as a strong field of 28 candidates.
While Gates is cautiously optimistic after all the changes, she feels pretty good about this one.
"Absolutely. I really do," Gates said. "He definitely knows what he's talking about and doing things we need to get done. He's pushing us, and that's what we've needed for so long."
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