When Burbank High football Coach Richard Broussard resigned in December after leading the Bulldogs to a historic season, the school began the search for a new coach and received inquiries and applicants from across Southern California.
But what the school soon realized was who it was looking for in a new coach was right in its backyard.
Burbank graduate, former player and assistant coach Adam Colman will take over the Bulldogs program, as the 23-year-old was named head coach Friday.
“When I found out that [Broussard] was leaving, after getting over the initial shock, that’s when I first decided that I would apply for the open job,” said Colman, a 2011 graduate. “This program has been going in a positive direction under coach ‘Bru’ and, at the end of the day, we just didn’t want things to change.
“I’ve been around the Burbank program for 10 years and, when I first started playing, Burbank football was a joke to a lot of people. But now, the program is winning and getting respect. ... After building something special here, we just didn’t want to go back to those days. So after ‘Bru’ and I talked, it made sense for me to go for it.”
Burbank Principal Michael Bertram said the football job was posted with a teaching position included and the school received interest from a number of qualified candidates.
“Our goal was that we wanted to have somebody on campus, not just a walk-on,” Bertram said. “We had a good pool of applicants and I believe it was a good process. In his final interview, Adam’s level of maturity just rose to the surface.
“He has our complete support and I think it’s going to be a smooth transition. He is just very well-respected by the students and the staff here at Burbank High. Along with football, he’s a great math teacher and the kids enjoy being in his class. ... I am really excited for him and he’s going to have a long career ahead of him.”
Colman, who said he learned about Broussard’s decision to step down early in the 2016 season, spent much of the campaign shadowing the head coach who he calls a mentor and friend.
“I spent the season learning everything that I could from him,” said Colman, who was an assistant in the program for four years and served as quarterbacks coach and junior varsity head coach last season. “I wanted to learn all that I could from a guy who knows so much abut football.
“I can’t put into words what ‘Bru’ has meant to me, not only as a coach, but a role model, a mentor, a boss and, most importantly, a friend. He is just a great person, and not just for the Xs and Os and the coaching, but for who he is. He is a genuine guy who cares for other people and he puts everyone before himself.”
Colman was able to learn in what became the most successful season in the program’s 105-year history. The Bulldogs went 10-4 and 6-1 in the Pacific League, finishing second behind Crescenta Valley. What followed was a historic playoff run by unseeded Burbank, which upset two top-four seeds in Division VIII to earn a berth in a CIF championship game for the first time in program history. The Bulldogs fell short of winning a first-ever title, losing to Yorba Linda, 31-21, on Dec. 2.
In Broussard’s three seasons at Burbank, the Bulldogs went 24-13 and 16-5 in the Pacific League.
Colman, who began his football career playing for the Burbank Vikings Youth Tackle Football program, was a standout two-sport athlete at Burbank, earning all-league accolades in football as a quarterback and in boys’ basketball. In his senior football season in 2010, Colman earned All-Area first-team recognition after completing 129 of 241 passes for 2,066 yards with 19 touchdowns and just four interceptions. In basketball as a junior, he was a starter on a Bulldogs squad that advanced to the CIF semifinals for the first time in 43 years.
After graduating from Burbank, Colman passed up some opportunities to play in college and instead concentrated on his studies. He graduated early from UCLA with a degree in psychology.
“I love Burbank, but I think the best thing for me was going away to college, having space and really meeting people from different places and from different backgrounds,” he said. “It really made me value Burbank and all the great things here, especially the school and the football program.
“I really love the kids here and they deserve to have someone who cares about them. My philosophy has always been ‘Kids don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.’ ... I see this as a blessing and a great opportunity and I feel I’m very lucky.”
Colman, who said he will retain many of the assistants from Broussard’s staff, knows that some might question his hire considering his young age.
“I just ask that people give me a chance before they judge me,” he said. “I don’t like to talk about myself, but I don’t think I’m your average 23 year old. I would just hope they give me a chance, get to know me and see what I can do.”
Jeff Tully, firstname.lastname@example.org