Jun. 23—HUNTINGBURG, Ind. — An opportunity too good to pass up.
That's how former Danville standout Megan Burton viewed the offer from the Southwest Dubois County School Corporation in Huntingburg, Ind.
Earlier this week, Burton accepted a physical education teaching position at Southridge High School and Southridge Middle School, which also include the athletics director position at Southridge Middle School and the head coaching position for Southridge High School softball.
"This is just an absolute blessing," said Burton, who just completed her collegiate playing career this spring at Eastern Illinois University. "Because of COVID, I was able to finish my master's degree while still playing my fifth season. I never thought that I would be able to get an administration position and a head coaching position in my first job."
Actually, Burton had planned on returning to her alma mater, Danville High, as a physical education teacher for the upcoming school year.
"My plan was just to start out as a teacher, getting my feet wet and getting the experience," she said. "But, then Southridge reached out to me with this amazing opportunity."
So how did Southridge know about Burton?
She is less than two weeks away from her marriage to Payton Mattingly, a former baseball standout at Southridge.
"My fiancé and his family are originally from there," Burton said. "His dad (Gene Mattingly) is a state championship winning baseball coach at Southridge and his mom (Traci Mattingly) is a teacher in the district.
"Payton just got a job at a bank there, so we looking to move there after we get married in 10 days. That is the big reason that we moved in that direction."
And while it seems like a perfect scenario, Burton admitted it was a difficult decision.
"I was really looking forward to coming back to Danville," she said. "But, this was just too good of an opportunity to pass up at this time."
In the past four seasons, the Southridge Raiders have gone 41-44 on the softball field, winning the school's second-ever sectional title in 2019.
"I really want to focus on development," said Burton. "The culture piece will also be very important, because I think that drives success, but I want on the weight room and being competitive."
The strength aspect is something that Burton learned from her time at Eastern Illinois.
Early in her career, she dealt with a stress fracture in her spine and broken foot — twice.
"I knew I had strengthen my core," Burton said back in 2000, noting that she started working out with former Bismarck-Henning athlete Murad Abbed. "When I got to college, everyone was bigger, faster and stronger than I was. I wasn't prepared for that."
Getting into the weight room is actually one of the strengths of the Southridge athletic program.
"That really stood out to me," she said. "They take a lot of pride in their weight room. I know a lot of high school programs might not take the weight room serious, but at Southridge it's different.
"I'm really excited to see these girls that get an opportunity to coach to grow and learn how to use their bodies."
Burton pointed out that she also wants to be a positive female role model at Southridge, which has only one other female head coach in the school and that is volleyball coach Mande Keusch.
"I admire what Southridge is trying to build and I excited to be a part of that," she said.