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Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Becky Burleigh has a secret.

Judging by her demeanor you would never know, but for the coach of the UF soccer team, history is just around the corner.

This weekend, when the Gators (4-4-2) try to right the ship against Vanderbilt (3-5-2) and Kentucky (6-2-2), Burleigh will be looking to etch her name into the record books, as she is only two wins shy of 300 for her career.

BI really had no idea, she never even told us,C senior defender Shana Hudson said during practice.

For the two-time Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year, keeping the accomplishment quiet was no mistake.

BIt just means I?ve been coaching for a long time,C Burleigh said. BI don?t want to make a big deal about it.C

Words aren?t necessary in Burleigh?s case; the only coach the Gators soccer program has ever known has a resume that speaks for itself.

In 18 years, she has piled up a record of 289-81-25, which is good for the fifth-most wins among active coaches in NCAA Division-1 soccer. If Burleigh reaches 300, she will join the four ahead of her as the only current coaches to do so.

When UF began its soccer program in 1995, Burleigh was hired away from Berry College in Georgia, where she won two NAIA national championships. It didn?t take long for her to emulate that success in Gainesville, when in only the program?s fourth year she captured a national title as a Gator.

Looking back, Burleigh does her best to look forward and takes with her memories not of success, but of friendship.

BWhen me and the old players get together, no one talks about wins and losses,C she said. BWe talk about fun times and all the things that have happened.C

Even with all her success, Burleigh said her coaching loyalty will always remain at the college level.

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BOne of the coolest parts of this job is being able to be with people for some of the most unique years of their life,C she said. BIn college you?re really finding yourself and defining yourself, and I think that?s why coaching in college is where it?s at.

BI get to work with people that other people pay money to talk to. And I get to see them every day.C

In her years at UF, Burleigh has developed a reputation as a players? coach. Her serious nature on the field is in stark contrast to the person off it, according to goalkeeper Katie Fraine.

BYou would never guess it, but she really is a teddy bear,C Fraine said.

Fraine said Burleigh has a knack for calming down and motivating players, especially the young ones like herself. Recently Fraine, a redshirt freshman, was benched during the second half of UF?s game against Georgia.

Burleigh comforted the shaken Fraine, telling her to keep trying and instilling faith in her goalie.

BShe?s not the type to bring you down when you make mistakes,C Fraine said. BShe?s just a positive person, and she?s not afraid to bring you in and tell you what she needs from you. She?s just a great competitor.C

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