Football coach Jeff Burnside is leaving Berkley High School after just two years – sooner than he expected – to take a position at Novi High School that will allow him to spend more time with his family.
Burnside has been a teacher in the Novi High School science department for the past 14 years and served there as an assistant football coach for more than 10 years before coming to Berkley to take his first head coaching gig.
"So, it just makes sense for me," to take the head coach position in Novi, said Burnside, who lives in South Lyon. "But, it was not an easy choice. It was tough to leave Berkley. Those kids are outstanding."
Burnside, who said he expected to be with the Berkley team for at least 5 or 6 years when he was hired, held a team meeting Tuesday to tell his former players the news face-to-face.
"I was shaking," he said. "It was hard. It was real hard. It's something I really don't want to have to go through again. ... You feel like you let them down."
Christopher Sikora, a special education teacher at Berkley High School, will serve as interim coach until a permanent replacement is named in the new year, Burnside said.
"He's a great guy," Burnside said of Sikora. "He's a good teacher. He's a good football guy."
Burnside will meet with his new players this week and a “Meet and Greet the Coach” is planned for players and their parents on Jan. 17 at 7 p.m. in the Novi High School Auditorium, according to a press release.
"We're excited," Novi Athletic Director Brian Gordon said. "We know he'll bring passion and enthusiasm not only for the football team but for the kids at Novi."
The move will allow Burnside to spend more time at home with his wife and daughters, who are ages 2 and 5, he said.
"My family is, obviously, my number one priority. It just makes it easier on my wife. It makes it easier on me as a father," Burnside said. "I hope the kids understand it was not an easy decision."
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Novi Patch Editor Rebecca Jaskot contributed to this story.