Burns embarks on new role as head coach at Cordova
by W. Brian Hale
Jun 10, 2014 | 4012 views | 0 0 comments | 42 42 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Players listen as new Cordova basketball coach Heath Burns speaks at a summer meeting on Tuesday. Burns takes over the Blue Devils program after leading the Parrish Tornadoes to the AHSAA Class 1A state championship final.
Players listen as new Cordova basketball coach Heath Burns speaks at a summer meeting on Tuesday. Burns takes over the Blue Devils program after leading the Parrish Tornadoes to the AHSAA Class 1A state championship final.
CORDOVA — Just three short months ago, Heath Burns guided the Parrish Tornadoes to the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex for the AHSAA Class 1A Final Four, where his squad earned a landmark victory over Sunshine, the second-ranked team in the state to earn a spot in the finals — a milestone in Burns’ career.

Today, Burns is at the head of a new program — the Cordova Blue Devils. With the closure of Parrish, he is once again faced with the prospect of turning struggling programs into contenders.

The most notable difference for Burns as he takes the helm at Cordova is that he’ll have plenty of help, not only from his assembly of assistant coaches who have been with him for years, but from many members of his veteran squad that earned accolades at several levels, forming a group of “coaches on the court” to assist in guiding new players into Burns’ system.

“It definitely helps to have guys who have been in our system that can make this an easy transition for not only us coming from Parrish, but the players that are here at Cordova that we’ll be working with,” Burns said.

“These guys understand what we’re doing as far as a system, the intensity we look for in practice and our drill work, and can explain that to the young men that are new to our system. So many of these guys are striving to play on the next level and have watched former teammates sign with colleges. They know the hard work pays off and that’s the type of infectious attitude they’ll spread among our new team. They want to see this program succeed not only in the immediate future, but for years to come and that’s something they’re not only taking very seriously, but also something they’re very happy to be a part of.”

Along with consistent leadership from veteran seniors Treyvon Chatman and Denzell Daley, Burns has also been impressed with senior Jonathan Softley — a player he’s faced on several occasions and now is proud to have him as a member of his team.

“Jonathan has really worked hard and been a key component into helping our transition. He’s going to play a major role into the success we have this season,” Burns said.

“Roderick Eppinger is another young man think is going to be a superb contributor for us. he’s got a great work ethic and a lot of talent.”

Burns’ arrival has not only sparked excitement in the school and community, but prospective players who flocked to tryouts in hopes of getting a spot on the team.

“I believe in the past, they’ve only been able to have two boys teams at Cordova — a varsity and junior varsity — and both had limited numbers ... maybe 6 or 7 players on each. We had 61 kids tryout for the team, which was not only staggering, but also very welcome to see,” Burns said. “We’ve got three very solid teams, varsity, junior varsity and ninth grade squads, along with four outstanding classes here at the high school. It lends to our belief that we can succeed and be competitive for a very long time. There’s limitless potential.”

Some additional advantages have also made Burns and his transferring players smile frequently outside of their new, hardworking teammates and the excitement felt in and around the program.

Cordova’s basketball gym, a favorite of Burns, Daley and Chatman, has been a joy to practice in, and the three maintain will be equally enjoyable to compete in for home crowds.

There’s also plenty of support from existing basketball fan base, the ascending Lady Blue Devils basketball team under coach Randy Stracner enjoys a large following that has increased in size each season.

Together with the support of an administration eager to see the boys basketball team join the upper echelon of championship contenders, Burns feels that everything is in place to create a prominent program.

“Everything a program needs to be very successful is in place here at Cordova. It’s our goal to take the court and give the students, faculty, administration and community a boys basketball team they can be proud of,” Burns said.