Jacob Burgamy’s return to Augusta University marks a dream come true for him.
In late August, Burgamy was hired to lead the men’s and women’s cross country and track and field programs, taking over for longtime coach Adam Ward, who will lead the University of Maine’s programs. Burgamy ran for AU during the program’s best year in 2019, and his return is a homecoming that was meant to be.
“Returning to AU was an ideal situation for me because I knew all the ins and outs of the program,” said Burgamy, who was part of Augusta’s ninth-place finish at the NCAA nationals — a rank which is tied for the best finish of any Peach Belt Conference team in history.
“I know all the things that an outsider wouldn’t know, such as the specific workouts and training schedules for runners here. It made for an easy transition, so if I could pick any school in the U.S. that I wanted to coach at, I would choose here.”
Taking over at AU is bittersweet for Burgamy given how much he looked up to and admired Ward. But he said his experience running for Ward helped him prepare for his role going forward.
“He was a huge mentor to me. I talked to him for hours about training. I’ve had some great mentors, but he had the biggest impact on me,” Burgamy said. “I know how he’s done things in the past and how he would’ve done things now, so it is ideal for me to step up in his place and carry the tradition forward.”
While at Augusta University, Burgamy earned a master’s degree in kinesiology from the College of Education and Human Development with a minor in sport coaching, but ever since he was in middle school, he said he always had plans to go into coaching.
“Coaching at the college level has always been the goal, especially since I was in eighth grade,” he said. “I started coaching as a freshman in high school, and that gave me experience actually coaching and teaching. That experience when I was young actually helped me individualize within a team and multitask, so that helped me along the way.”
His experience coaching in high school proved to be successful as he led Brentwood School, an independent school in Sandersville, Georgia, to multiple state record performances this past season. He hopes to continue the success Ward has had with the program.
“In the 2019 season, we had the highest finish in program history, and the men’s team has been very vocal about leaving this year as the best team in program history. I think just by looking at the roster, they definitely have a shot at being better than we were, and I hope they pull it off.”
Long term, Burgamy said getting this year’s men’s team on a podium is something he is working toward.
“Outside of a couple guys, our team is very young, so beyond this year we want to look toward moving up to podium contention,” he said. “If we can go ahead and be better than that 2019 team’s finish this year with our young roster, then that would be a huge step in the direction of becoming a team that can contend for podium (top 4) spots at the national championship.”
He’s also working to make school history with the women’s team.
“They’ve got an outside shot at winning the conference, which hasn’t happened in school history,” he said. “This year, our biggest goal is for the women’s team to win a conference title for the first time ever, which could be huge deal for us.”
In addition to coaching, Burgamy also runs 478 Athletics, a commercial gym and coaching company, where he serves as a running coach. He notes that a student athlete’s intensity often depends on how far along they are in their career.
“There’s a difference between the middle schoolers and high schoolers who are just there to be there and the college athletes who take it seriously,” he said. “Everyone on our team this year wants to contribute to something big on the team level. There may be kids who decide that the number of practices are too much for them, but those who are willing to work run pretty well.”
Through his business, Burgamy has gained experience coaching higher level runners.
“It definitely helped me become a better coach,” he said. “I coached a runner who is now a professional, so that gave me some experience honing my craft. Coaching in high school teaches you about developing young kids but coaching through 478 really helps me with the developmental side and the professional side of coaching.”