Pyburn lands job of her dreams
When Olivia Pyburn was coaching at Crowley’s Summer Creek Middle School she saw a glimpse of what the Burleson ISD was like and knew someday she wanted to be a part of the district.
Pyburn, 35, made her way back to Burleson earlier this year when she was approved as head girls basketball coach at Burleson High School. She takes over the program from coach Curtis Enis who recently retired.
“Burleson is a unique place,” Pyburn said. “I knew about it from working in Crowley. I interviewed for the job about six or seven years ago when I was in Crowley.”
The problem for Pyburn back then was she had no head coaching experience.
Four years ago, Pyburn took her first head coaching position at Odessa. Last season, the Lady Bronchos ended a 14-year playoff drought. Odessa defeated El Paso
Americas in the opening round of the Class 6A playoffs then lost to Arlington Martin in the area round of the playoffs.
“I was able to gain a lot of experience as a head coach and I always knew that I wanted to come back to the area,” Pyburn said.
Over four seasons at Odessa, Pyburn posted a 56-68 record. At Burleson, Pyburn will be entering her 11th year of coaching.
Pyburn, who graduated from Waxahachie High School, played basketball for two seasons at Blinn Junior College then went on to play at West Texas A&M. She played at Tarleton State where she also graduated.
“Burleson is that district that makes you feel like you are home,” Pyburn said. “The community is very great and supportive. I knew I wanted to work in the district that Burleson has created and make a difference in the kids’ lives. I wanted to be the person that makes a change in the program.”
After taking the job, the girls’ basketball booster club held a “Welcome Coach Night,” Pyburn said. “The night went great.”
Fact is, she said it was awesome. There was a full room of parents and players.
“The parents and kids were very welcoming,” Pyburn said. “They even gave me a few gifts to welcome me to Burleson. That showed me in my heart that this is a place I’m supposed to be. I was really excited about things when I drove back to Odessa.”
Pyburn takes over a program that went 9-22 and 2-11 in District 5-5A play.
The Lady Elks return four players who earned spots on the 5-5A All-District team. Leading the group is sophomore post Trinitee Johnson, the 5-5A Newcomer of the Year. As a freshman, Johnson averaged a team-high 8.2 points and 7.1 rebounds per game in 5-5A play. She also shot a team-high 47.7 percent from the field.
Burleson had three honorable mention players in then guard Rylee Moseley (5.6 points, 2.5 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.6 steals), guard Kate Renner (3.7 points, 1.9 rebounds, 1.3 assists) and sophomore Emily White (4.2 points, 4 rebounds).
Moseley will be a senior in the upcoming school year while Renner and White will be juniors.
“The kids are very hungry for success,” Pyburn said. “My job as a coach is to take care of them as student-athletes and then the winning will take care of itself.”
Pyburn said she is excited because the varsity squad has so many young players that are eager to learn.
“It’s a big plus to have them for more than one year,” Pyburn said. “We are going to be young but we aren’t going to fear any competition.”
Last week, Pyburn saw her players in summer league play for the first time. After the game, she told the players she liked what she had seen.
“I told them it was great to see them playing in summer league,” Pyburn said.
She told them if they come in with an open mind, and believe in us as coaches and believe in the process, then that will make the transition to a new coach that much easier.
Pyburn’s coaching philosophy revolves around playing an up-tempo game. She takes a lot of pride on the defensive end.
“I tell my players that you can’t win games if you can’t play defense,” Pyburn said. “As a coach, if you don’t put a stamp on it, your opponent will. We will be locked in on defense. I’m not sure if we will play man-to-man defense. I don’t know the kids that well yet. I have to see what they are able to do and what they are good at. And we will go from there.”