MURFREESBORO Middle Tennessee Christian School didn’t have to look far to find its next high school girls basketball coach — just a few miles down the road.
MTCS landed a big name with college and high school state tournament level coaching experience with the announcement that MTSU women’s basketball assistant Lynn Burkey is replacing Dan Wilkerson as the Lady Cougars’ next head coach.
“It’s a huge hire for us to have someone with his body of work, with his experience and respect all over the state,” MTCS principal Todd Miller said. “Our community is just excited.”
Burkey spent the past two seasons at MTSU as an assistant under head coach Rick Insell. Prior to his stint at MTSU, he spent five years as the head coach at Shelbyville, where he was Insell’s replacement.
Burkey said the decision to leave MTSU wasn’t an easy one.
“I love basketball, but I also love the classroom,” said Burkey, who lives in Murfreesboro with his wife Kim. “I really wanted to get back into the classroom. It’s a little bittersweet because I’ve absolutely loved my time at Middle Tennessee State.
“I’m grateful to Rick Insell and Chris Massaro and everyone over at Middle Tennessee for the time. But after I talked with folks and checked out Middle Tennessee Christian, I felt it was the right place for me.”
Burkey will likely be teaching American history and economics at MTCS.
Burkey, 59, was 125-42 in five seasons at Shelbyville. He took two Shelbyville teams to the state tournament, including his first team which reached the finals.
Burkey, who is 181-55 as a head coach, spent two seasons at Greeneville before coming to the Middle Tennessee area. Burkey also took Greeneville, his alma mater, to the state tournament. He spent 17 years prior to coaching at Greeneville as an assistant at Oak Ridge.
At MTCS, he’ll take over a program coming off a Class A sectional appearance and one that has been to the sectional round of the postseason four times over the past six seasons under Wilkerson, who resigned to take an assistant coaching position at Brentwood Academy. Wilkerson had a 122-68 record at MTCS.
MTCS has never made the TSSAA girls basketball state tournament.
“We appreciate coach Wilkerson and his staff and all of their service to MTCS,” Miller said. “They continued to build the program. They had a lot of success at a high level. To be able to follow that success with a coach of a Lynn Burkey, we’re just excited about the direction of the future of our program.”
Burkey said the school’s past success hadn’t gone unnoticed.
“I’ve heard about (MTCS) for years,” Burkey said. “I never heard anything but positive here. As I sort of began to check it out and talked about it with Mr. Miller, I talked to a lot of people.
“I couldn’t get any negative. It was all positive. I think this school academically, athletically, spiritually and emotionally is a great, great place to get an education. It was a great fit for me, to get back in the classroom, to get back on the court with high school kids.”
Burkey had his first workout with his new team on Thursday. The team will practice again Friday before the TSSAA two-week mandated dead period begins next week.
MTCS’ Juliann Peters admitted she was intimidated on the court initially with Burkey running practice. Burkey worked practice in a black MTSU polo and shorts.
“He definitely has a lot of experience,” Peters said. “He seems like a real awesome guy. He was really good at taking things slow and introducing stuff to us.”