2018-06-13 / Sports

Longtime Dryden soccer coach headed to North Branch

810-452-2651 • bpope@mihomepaper.com

Former Dryden soccer coach John Burke will take over the soccer program at North Branch in the fall. 
Photo provided Former Dryden soccer coach John Burke will take over the soccer program at North Branch in the fall. Photo provided NORTH BRANCH — After a successful 12-year stint as both the boys’ and girls’ varsity soccer coach at Dryden, John Burke is embarking on a new chapter by taking over as the boys’ varsity coach at North Branch this fall. Burke is replacing another longtime coach in Rick Skelton, who retired at the end of the girls’ season.

“When I decided this would be my final season at Dryden, I wasn’t planning on coaching in the fall but then I was told that coach Skelton was retiring and I should talk to North Branch about the position,” said Burke. “AD Jim Fish contacted me about the opening and asked me to come in for an interview. A week later he offered me the job and I accepted.”

Although Burke had been awarded the position, he wanted to keep the news low key as to not disrupt his final season with the Cardinals, who were quite successful this year despite low numbers.

“I didn’t want this news to be a distraction during my girls’ season at Dryden, but with social media it was impossible to keep my hiring quiet,” added Burke.

As for the North Branch athletic department, Fish is thrilled to have found such a quality coach to replace Skelton as the head of the program.

“We are very fortunate to get a coach of John's caliber to take over our boys' soccer program,” said Fish. “He will have some very big shoes to fill, as Rick Skelton has done a stellar job winning the last two Tri-Valley Conference Championships and producing a 29-11-1 overall record for the past two seasons. We believe John can continue the excellent soccer tradition we have established at North Branch Schools. John cares about developing the whole student-athlete and we are excited to have him as part of the Bronco athletic program.”

Burke looks forward to coaching at a bigger school and is also intrigued by the thought of leading the Broncos into their first season in the Blue Water Area Conference.

“I am very excited about the challenges ahead of me as North Branch moves into the very competitive BWAC, moving to a bigger school and the high expectations I have for myself and my team,” concluded Burke. “We will start preseason training shortly, I will use this time to get to know my players, let them know what my expectations are of them and their expectations of me.

“My team will work hard, never quit and play with sportsmanship.”

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