Valdosta Daily Times

June 5, 2013

VSU’s Helfer hires former Blazer Herman Burge as assistant coach

Ed Hooper
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — When he played for the Blazers, Herman Burge dazzled in front of fans, going down as one of the more electric point guards to run Mike Helfer’s system.

Now Burge, who last played for the Valdosta State men’s basketball team in 2007, is returning to his alma mater to serve under Helfer as the assistant men’s basketball coach.

“Words can’t describe how happy my wife and I are about coming back to Valdosta,” Burge said Tuesday night when reached by telephone. “It is going to be such a dream come true to get back there.”

Since graduating from Valdosta State, Burge has served in various coaching roles at several schools. Throughout the entire process, Burge has viewed Valdosta State, and working for Helfer, as a goal and a dream job.

“One thing when Coach Helfer recruited me as a player, I not only saw him as a guy I wanted to play for but as a guy I would like to coach for as well,” Burge said.

Turns out, Helfer has always thought about Burge being a coach, too. After the news that former associate head coach Nick Gast had taken the head boy’s basketball coaching position at Parkview High School in Gwinnett County, Helfer had the opportunity to reach out to Burge and offer him a position.

“I just reached out to him and realized that he would be somebody that could fill that spot, in more ways than just being a good coach,” Helfer said. “He has a tremendous personality, our boosters are very familiar with him and I just thought it would be a good hire.”

One of the schools Burge coached at was Florida Gulf Coast, this past season’s Cinderella team in the NCAA Division I Tournament, advancing to the Sweet 16 and captivating a national television audience.

Burge also spent time at Stetson University, a Division I school that competes in the Atlantic Sun with the likes of Mercer University.

Most recently, Burge has served as the head women’s coach at St. Gregory’s University in  Shawnee, Okla.

“One thing I always get asked when I am recruiting here for St. Gregory’s is, ‘How long are you going to be here?’” Burge said. “I told them that the only school I would leave for would be Valdosta State.”

A plus for hiring Burge as the new assistant coach is his depth and knowledge of VSU’s system, the Gulf South Conference and Division II basketball, said Helfer.

“Bringing the knowledge of my system; we could probably teach on opposite ends of the floor and he’ll be as good teaching because he played for me,” Helfer added. “He knows exactly how I teach things. That is probably going to be his biggest value.”

To prove his knowledge of Helfer’s system, Burge admitted that he applied some of the system in his coaching at St. Gregory’s.

“When we were talking about the job, (Helfer) said he still ran the same system and I still have most of my game films from when I played there,” Burge said. “I go back and see how we ran certain things when I played and apply that to my teams. So it will be a smooth transition.”

Like Gast, Burge will also be in charge of doing the majority of the Blazers’ recruiting. For Burge, he will just sell his passion for VSU.

“For me, it is going to be very easy to sell my passion for Valdosta State, being a former player and knowing Coach Helfer and his system,” Burge said. “That is going to be the greatest selling point: Having the pride of being a Blazer.”

“Your best recruiters are guys that can sell themselves, sell the program and sell the school,” Helfer added. “There is not going to be anyone better than Herman Burge at doing that. I thought Gast was great at that; Gast a former player. I think Herman’s personality will speak volumes.”

In his final season at Valdosta State in 2007, Burge averaged over 13 points per game, the Blazers’ second highest scorer that season, while dishing out 183 assists in 30 games.

Burge is married and has a newborn baby. His wife is from Macon, and moving closer to the family is also a plus for the job.

“I couldn’t have asked for anything better; the timing was great,” Burge said “I am originally from Midwest City (Okla.), which is 30 minutes from where I am now. So my family has gotten to see the baby grow up a little bit and now it is everybody’s turn in Georgia.”