Concordia's Burgau to make way for Coste as head coach
By Eric Peterson/FORUM News Service
Moorhead - Chris Coste has had an inkling he wanted to take over for Bucky Burgau ever since Coste played baseball for the longtime Cobbers head coach in the 1990s.
“I always joked with him that I was going to take his job one day,” Coste said on Monday in the office he shares with Burgau. “It’s something I’ve kind of had my eye on since I was 19 years old.”
Now, there is a set time when that will happen.
Burgau said he will step down as head coach after the 2014 season, clearing the way for the 40-year-old Coste to take over as the team’s head coach for the 2015 season. The move doesn’t mean Burgau, 63, is leaving. He will be an assistant coach for Coste.
“I don’t think I’d be doing this if it was anybody but Chris Coste,” Burgau said of his former player, who won a World Series title in 2008 with the Philadelphia Phillies.
The upcoming season will be Burgau’s 36th and final as Cobbers head coach. He has the most wins in program history with a 662-529-6 record.
“Concordia has really been good to me. They are allowing me to do it this way,” said Burgau, who turns 64 in November. “I feel young. I don’t think I look 63. I certainly don’t feel 63, but I think it’s just the time.”
In Burgau’s first years as Concordia head coach, Sonny Gulsvig – his father-in-law – was an assistant coach. Burgau credited Gulsvig with helping him learn the job, especially the off-the-field duties. Burgau wants to pay that forward.
“I want to be able to do that for Chris,” Burgau said. “He is a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful, baseball coach. … He is going to take this program maybe to a level that it has never been before.”
Coste played for Burgau from 1993-95 and was a three-time All-American for the Cobbers. He also won three consecutive Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference most valuable player awards.
Burgau plans to keep his role as a bench coach for the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks, who play in the summers. Burgau said that also played a role in letting Coste take over the Concordia program after the upcoming season.
“I don’t want to lessen my role with the RedHawks yet,” Burgau said. “I really enjoy putting my uniform on every day.”
Coste will be entering his third season as an assistant at Concordia. This school year is his first as a full-time employee at the school, helping Burgau with equipment management for the school’s athletic teams. Coste and Burgau share an office next to the equipment room in the lower level of Memorial Auditorium.
“He knows every athlete on campus. He gets to know all the athletes really well,” Coste said. “There is not five minutes that goes by where somebody doesn’t go, ‘Hey Buck.’ … I wanted that.”
Coste said during his professional playing days, he assumed he would end up being a coach in the minor leagues. That changed when he returned to Fargo-Moorhead to become a coach for the Cobbers.
“This is where I plan on being, the same way Bucky has been here for 30-some years, that’s what I want to be when I’m his age,” Coste said. “I have no desire to move on to Division I or try to get to higher level.”
Coste said he wasn’t in a rush to take over as head coach. He would have waited longer to take over the program if Burgau wanted to stay on as head coach. Coste said, in some aspects, he has already been allowed to make head-coach-like decisions.
“Bucky is in his 60s, but he runs around like he’s 30,” Coste said. “Coaching-wise he’s in his 30s. He can do everything. … I don’t need to be the head coach, but for him, I think it was important to make the transition.”