Peabody Magnet High girls basketball coach Michael Burks has guided the Lady Warhorses to a 13-9 overall record heading into tonight’s District 3-4A game against Leesville. In his eight seasons as Lady Warhorse coach, Burks has won seven district titles and reached the Ladies Top 28 once. / Melinda Martinezfirstname.lastname@example.org
For a video interview with Peabody coach Michael Burks, please visit www.thetowntalk.com
Michael Burks channels Michael Corleone from "The Godfather Part III" when he talks about the game of basketball.
"Every time I try to get out, they pull me back in," said the 64-year-old Peabody Magnet High girls basketball coach, who has contemplated retirement. "The thing that makes me want to return is that they're all eager to play. When it's time to substitute a player, you should see them -- all jumping up and down wanting to get in the game. I love that."
Burks began coaching girls basketball at Bonita High in Morehouse Parish in 1971 and won two district titles with the program. He later became the head boys basketball coach at A. Wettermark High School and won a state championship there in 1987.
After serving as a biology teacher at Peabody High in Alexandria from 1975-76, Burks returned to the Alexandria school less than a decade ago.
"I left Peabody because the coaching position was available at Bonita and there were no coaching jobs available when I was at Peabody," said Burks, who is in his seventh season coaching the Lady Warhorses. "(Peabody Principal) Lee Dotson said they needed someone to teach science here, and I signed a contract in 2005 and then became the girls coach."
During his tenure at Peabody, Burks has led the Lady Warhorses to seven district championships and one appearance in the Ladies Top 28 in 2005.
"We lost to McDonogh 35 by two points in the semifinals," said Burks, whose team hosts Leesville tonight in District 3-4A play. "You learn to put the losses behind you because if you don't, you will never be able to move forward.
This season, Burks has been dealing with the challenge of guiding a young group of players. The Lady Warhorses (13-9, 3-0) have only one senior, shooting guard Kadejah Alexander, who averages 18 points a game.
"Kadejah is our offensive leader and can do it all," Burks said. "She's soft spoken. Sometimes, she plays too fast and too hard. By being the only senior, she tries to overcompensate."
Burks said one of the team's challenges all season long is learning how to play with more consistency.
"One game we're good and the next game, I'm yelling 'what are you doing?!" he said. "The best game we had this year, we lost to Washington-Marion. We were down by 16 and lost by one point."
He's certain his team can change for the better with help from assistant coaches Brandy Kenny and former Peabody star Kelli Brasher, whose brother, Lance Brasher, is the Tioga High boys basketball coach.
"Kelli played basketball for Peabody and was an all-state player and Brandy was a girls basketball coach at Jena High," he said. "Both of them make my job so easy."
Alexander likes how Burks pushes the team to perform better.
"He tells us not to stop till the buzzer ends," Alexander said. "He keeps us uplifted and loves to take the time to explain to us what we do right and wrong. He yells sometimes, but it's needed to keep us focused."
Burks said coaching the girls is good for his health.
"Their enthusiasm and energy helps keep me going," he said. "It's just exciting to see this team play. I'm 28 wins away from getting 700 career wins in coaching boys and girls. This team can definitely help me reach my goal of getting 700 wins."