University of Portland Athletics announced on Wednesday that former assistant volleyball coach Megan Burton has been promoted to the head coaching position for the Pilots. This comes a year after Burton was brought on by former head coach Jeff Baxter as part of his staff.
“I’m so excited, I’m so excited,” Burton said. “It’s the word I’ve been using all day to describe my emotions. I’m excited and I’m proud and I’m grateful. I’m grateful to everyone that has helped me on this journey to get to where I am right now.”
While this is will be Burton’s first time assuming the role of head coach, she has years of experience under her belt. The Honolulu native came to UP after working as an assistant coach at the University of Nevada for five years, where she was also a co-recruiting coordinator. Before that, she was an assistant coach at both Saint Mary’s College — her alma mater — for three seasons and at San Jose State for one.
As an undergrad, Burton was a four-year starter for the Gaels, where she helped lead her team to their first West Coast Conference Championship in 2009 and earned All-WCC first team honors twice.
Burton returned to the West Coast after spending time in Nevada when Baxter, who knew her through former UP volleyball assistant coach Betsy Sedlak, called her asking Burton to join his staff. Burton accepted Baxter’s offer after visiting The Bluff.
“I absolutely loved it,” Burton said of UP. “And it was an opportunity to come back and really be on a campus that focuses on the student-athlete experience, and striving for excellence in the classroom and on the volleyball court, and in life. It was a community I wanted to be a part of.”
Her year as an assistant coach for the Pilots was ridden with obstacles. The team played a tough schedule, and toward the end of the season, Burton had to step up as interim head coach after Baxter and UP parted ways in November during the season. When the head coaching position opened up, she turned to her family, friends, fellow staff members and the players themselves to decide whether she should apply.
“The reason I got into coaching is because I want to create a positive environment to develop young women,” Burton said. “And so, first and foremost, I was in a concern for my student-athletes here, and for the players that I had grown to love.”
The players were “amazingly supportive,” according to Burton, and gave her their blessing. She applied in December and started the interviewing process amongst other candidates. The pool of applicants was narrowed down until Burton was seen as the best fit based on her experience and the relationship she already had with the players. She received the news on Monday.
Burton looks forward to leading the Pilots into the next season and is determined to take the program to a higher level of competition.
“My vision for this program is we’re going to continue to strive for excellence and we’re going to raise the bar,” Burton said. “This group that we have is amazingly hard-working. They’re going to set standards and they’re going to define what it means to be successful for UP volleyball.”
Ana Clyde is the copy editor and senior sports reporter for The Beacon. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.