(T-G Photo by Gary Johnson)
Burkey was born and raised in Greeneville. His mother, Josephine, still resides there.
I had the pleasure of meeting Mrs. Burkey while in Greeneville and, along with others from Shelbyville who made the long trip, noticed the strong resemblance between coach Burkey and his mother.
Mrs. Burkey attended all four games and keeps up with her son and the Eaglettes on a daily bases through her Times-Gazette subscription coach Burkey bought when he first moved to Shelbyville.
"I love reading the Times-Gazette and that's how I keep up with the team and know what's going on," Mrs. Burkey said.
Actually, it caught Mrs. Burkey by surprise when her son told her about his interest in becoming the Eaglette head coach.
"I was really happy when he came back home to coach at Greeneville and I thought he was going to be here for a good while and I think he did, too," Mrs. Burkey said. "I was shocked and I guess a little disappointed too when he told me about the opportunity for him to coach at Shelbyville but after he explained the advantages and the situation there, I wanted the best thing for him. I know he's real thrilled with his work and loves the community."
Coach Burkey coached Greeneville for two years before coming to Shelbyville.
I met a number of people throughout the community while I was in Greeneville and as you might expect, coach Burkey is very well respected.
Everywhere I went business leaders, friends and former students asked about coach Burkey and wanted me to wish him well.
Burkey and his wife Kim spent Christmas in Greeneville before the team joined him for their first game of the tournament on Wednesday.
One might think that playing in a tournament in your hometown might provide a great opportunity to spend a lot of time with longtime close friends and family. That's not necessarily the case with coach Burkey.
"I started explaining to my mom the day after Christmas, once the team got here I would be watching tapes, scouting, practicing and getting the team prepared for the next game," the coach said. "When we go into tournament time, I kind of shut everything off and stay focused on the team and do what I can do to help them be successful."
Things seem to be a little easier this year since Coach Burkey was married during the offseason.
"My wife Kim has really been great and understanding. She has helped with a lot of things and I appreciate all that she does.
Just what a man needs, another great female to keep us straight!
Gary Johnson is a Times-Gazette sports writer.