It is truly the end of an era at West Seattle High School, as longtime head football coach Tom Burggraff retires. Thanks to assistant coach Jeff Ursino for sharing the story:
After a career of service spanning back 26 years, Tom Burggraff has announced his retirement
as Head Football Coach at WSHS. Coach first made his announcement to his team in the WSHS locker room following the team’s season-ending playoff loss in Regionals.
Coach Burggraff began his coaching career as an assistant with the State Champion Ingraham Rams in 1988. In 1992 Tom took over a WSHS (Indians) football team that had only one winning record in modern memory, and hadn’t seen anything resembling a playoff or title game since the 1960s. It took two years to get the first win, but his teams slowly improved their records to eventually build a perpetually competitive team, including a 7-2 team in 1999, and culminating in the 2006 team that was the first (and still only) WSHS football team to make it to the State Playoff 16-team bracket (with a victory over Eastside Catholic and an 8-win season).
Tom stepped aside after 2007, leaving behind a well-coached and athletic core of players who had much success over the next 3 years under coach Davis Lura (2008-2010). Tom was quickly drawn back into coaching by Bob Dowding at Seattle Lutheran (Bob had coached under Tom at WSHS before SLHS added a football program). In 2012-13, Bob was done coaching at SLHS, and the WSHS program had begun to flounder. With his son coming in as a Class of 2017 Freshman, Tom again took over a building project at WSHS in 2013.
It took two years of very hard work to rebuild a complete coaching staff, but by 2015 WSHS boasted a mix of old and new faces with well over 100 years of experience, and even in the face of a competitive division saw the team rebound to a 5-5 record, and a return of the Huling Bowl Trophy to WSHS.
This 2016 season saw the 2A WSHS team play through the SPS divisions at 5-1 and into the 3A playoffs matched up against the reigning State Champions, Eastside Catholic. The 2016 team finished with a 6-4 record, with each of those losses against teams ranked in the top-10 in state.
Tom is stepping aside after the 2016 season, after a coaching tenure of uncommon duration in Seattle Public Schools. The program will miss his ability to prepare teams to deliver their best possible performance, as well as his willingness to manage the extra challenges that come along with coaching in SPS. Tom also had a long tenure as a Head Track Coach at WSHS, including the team that finished second in State in 2008.
The 2016 football team graduates several key players with the class of 2017. This is the school’s 100th graduating class, and Coach Burggraff has worked at the school for over a quarter of that century. He will continue to teach Social Studies at the school. There is a good core of returning players, and the WSHS tradition will surely live on under the next head coach. The school has not announced when that selection process will begin.