From the Bench: For Third Time in Five Months, BHS Girls Track has New Person Leading the Program

By Jeff Toquinto on April 04, 2021 from Sports Blog via

For the third time in a little under five months, the Bridgeport High School girls track program has a new head coach. And the high rate of turnover has nothing to do with any problems.
In fact, the new official hire sets up a situation that is not a first and brings a true family atmosphere to the already strong atmosphere the Indians track program has in place. The reason for the new hire is that late last year, long-time Coach Emilee Yurish resigned.
After that, the position was filled by assistant track coach Grant Burton. Then, when long-time boys track Coach Jon Griffith stepped down, Burton resigned and applied to take over the head gig with the boys, which happened.
That left the top job for the girls open again. And once again, Burton applied.
Confused? There is no reason to be.
The Burton in question is Ali Burton. The same Ali Burton that is the Mrs. Burton to Grant’s Mr. Burton. The same husband and wife team that has Ali as the head volleyball coach and Grant as the assistant.
While having a husband and wife coaching the same sports may seem unique, it is not in Bridgeport. And the school has Grant and Ali Burton to thank for that.
“This is our normal. This is life for the Burtons,” said Ali with a laugh.
While her title with the girls track program is new, her relationship with the team and the sport is not. She has been an assistant since the 2015 and competed in track and field at Greenbrier East High School and later at West Virginia Wesleyan College where she did high jump and threw the javelin on occasion.
It should also be noted for the casual follower of BHS sports, this is also not Ali Burton’s first head coaching job. As noted, she has served as the head volleyball coach since 2014 and was an assistant at her prep alma mater in volleyball and track for two years prior to arriving in Bridgeport.
As for joining a program that competes together and having her husband operating on the other side of the ledger, that will not be a problem. The pair have Griffith and Yurish to thank for that.
“The philosophy while we were here and I imagine before both of us were coaching was that we share coaching resources and work with all the boys and girls. That has worked best,” said Ali. “We actually had the same setup at Wesleyan (where Grant competed and coached) with the male and female teams and did everything as one. We’re going to continue that philosophy.”
One thing that may not continue is a high number of student athletes out for track. It does not have anything to do with the coaching changes.
“So far what we’re seeing is the lack of interest with the overlap of winter and spring sports. Coaches across the state are saying their numbers are down,” said Ali. “This is from all the coaches we’re talking to, even at the bigger schools. I guess until we start running meets and see who comes out, everything is up in the air as far as numbers and as far as just how competitive we’ll be.
“One thing is for sure, we’ll be as competitive as we can be,” she continued. “That’s part of the old and new coaching staffs.”
It is definitely part of the family approach to coaching with Bridgeport track.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The team began practice March 15. The first official meet will be the Connect-Bridgeport and Bridgeport Physical Therapy Invitational April 17 at the Wayne Jamison Field Complex. Top photo shows Ali Burton at a track meet last year, while she is shown coaching volleyball by herself and with her assistant, husband and head boys track Coach Grant Burton. Photos by Ben Queen Photography.

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