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Getting to Know ... Rick Burlingame

Rick Burlingame is in his second season as athletic director at Hebron Christian School. The 1966 graduate of Albion High School (Mich.) will be in charge of overseeing the school's newly-formed eighth-grade football team. It will be the third football program Burlingame has started from scratch.

In this latest installment of "Getting to Know...," Burlingame talks with staff writer Corey Clark on a variety of subjects, ranging from his wife Lila to his favorite TV show to his plans for the future.

CC: How long have you been married?

RB: It will be 37 years this June.

CC: Where did you go on your first date?

RB: Well, they call it The Dipper. It was a little snack shop on campus (at Pillsbury Baptist College in Minnesota).

CC: So 37 years, huh? What's the secret?

RB: (laughs) Find a good wife, that's the secret. There has to be consistency, trust. And she's always been very supportive of me and I think that's what has made it so easy ... having a Godly wife like that is truly a treasure. I probably wouldn't have made it without her. She's always so supportive and so uplifting. When difficulties arise, especially in coaching you're always dealing with some difficulties, she was always there for me and encouraging me.

CC: Do you miss coaching?

RB: I miss coaching football quite a bit. I'm excited about getting back into it, and I'm especially excited about starting a program from the ground up (Burlingame also started the programs at North Florida Christian in Tallahassee, Fla., in 1971 and Colonial Hills Christian School in 1973). I think one of my strengths is starting things and organizing things and getting things going.

CC: Is being an AD harder or easier than coaching?

RB: Coaching is probably easier than being an AD, just because you're solely dealing with the sports themselves. As an AD, there are so many things going on, you have your hands in so many different areas. And there's a lot of troubleshooting, a lot of long hours. And there are more long hours with an AD since he's going to all the different athletic events. But I really enjoy both of them. I enjoy working with the kids.

CC: You were in the 10th grade when it happened - how did you find out that Kennedy had been shot?

RB: I was at school and I think it came over the intercom system. That's what I think happened. I just remember everybody couldn't believe it. Things kind of came to a halt for a while ... (laughing) that's a long time ago though.

CC: What's your favorite hobby?

RB: My favorite hobby is sports. I love swimming and tennis. Unfortunately I've had back surgery so I haven't done as many things as I'm used to doing.

CC: What's your biggest fear?

RB: I don't really have one.

CC: Like not even a fear of snakes or a fear of heights or anything like that?

RB: No, not really. I know if I die I'm going to heaven. So whatever happens, happens.

CC: What's your favorite TV show?

RB: Oh, 24.

CC: I understand it's pretty good this year?

RB: Oh yeah. Of course, Jack is kind of going on a killing spree. It seems like he's eliminating everyone, but '24' has to be my favorite.

CC: Hebron is in just its second year of GHSA competition, but you guys have a chance to be a real power in the future, don't you?

RB: I think we will have a very successful program in the next five to 10 years, just because of the area we're in, and the amount of people we have coming into the area - especially ones that are wanting a Christian education ... it's an exciting time to be here, and almost being here on the ground floor. You can see things moving in the right direction, and the Christian leadership we have from the principal and the president is really great, from the school board, too. I think it's just an exciting time for everyone at Hebron.

CC: How much longer do you see yourself doing this?

RB: I guess as long as the Lord wants me here and I'm physically able to do it. I'm definitely looking for some retirement down the road, but it's not in my plans right now. I'm just really enjoying what I'm doing. And as long as you're enjoying what you're doing and you're physically able to do it, then why stop?