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Football: Waccamaw High grad joins French team’s coaching staff
By Roger Greene
Alex Burdette’s holiday season got a bit of a jump start. At Thanksgiving, Burdette found out the next stop on his coaching journey will be La Courneuve, France.
Burdette, a Waccamaw High and Clemson graduate, will serve as offensive coordinator for the La Courneuve Flash, winner of multiple French championships that also boasts a history of playing for several European Football League titles. Burdette coached in Germany in 2017 and had spent the offseason as most aspiring coaches do, sorting through the fallout and awaiting the best offer.
Knowing he would be joining the coaching staff of a team with Flash’s track record of success certainly buoyed Burdette’s holiday spirits.
“It was quite a nice present to start the holidays,” Burdette. “I was with my family and I got the offer right before Thanksgiving dinner. This is a huge opportunity for me. [La Courneuve] is one of the best teams in France and also Europe.”
La Courneuve is a French commune (similar to a municipality) located outside Paris. The Flash are part of the Elite League of American Football and claimed the conference title in 2017.
Burdette will leave for France early this month. Aside from a layover in Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Airport, Burdette has never visited the country before. However, he considers the newness the experience will bring to be just another step in the process of building his resume and paying his dues, the same as it was last year in Germany.
“It’s a new language, a new culture and new [customs],” said Burdette, who became interested in coaching overseas while serving as a student assistant at Clemson. “It’s a bit of a trial by fire, you have to be ready to jump in and pick things up quickly.
“But I enjoy the experience. You see and learn things you never would living in the U.S. And if you struggle with something, you can always use Google. That’s what it is for.”
In Germany, Burdette served as offensive coordinator/assistant coach for the Hildesheim Invaders, a member of the German Football League. His arrangement in La Courneuve will be similar to what it was in Hildesheim, as Burdette will be provided with a paid stipend and provided room and board. Healthcare expenses will also be covered and he’ll have the use of a car.
The style of play in Europe mirrors that of NCAA Division II. Players range in age from the early 20s to mid 30s, some using the game as more of a hobby, others harboring hopes of using the experience as a springboard to further their careers.
Expectations for La Courneuve will be much higher than they were for Hildesheim. As last year’s French championship further illustrated, the Flash’s history is one of success. Hildesheim, one of the more underfunded squads in Germany, finished 3-11 in 2017 but maintained its spot in the upper division.
“There will be more pressure,” Burdette said. La Courneuve “is a bigger job with more responsibility. They’re used to winning and they want that to continue. I’ll have to rise to the occasion.”
Given its success and status, La Courneuve has assembled a roster capable of handling certain amounts of advanced schemes and concepts. The Flash’s preference for an up-tempo style of offense fits Burdette’s coaching style.
“Their system is kind of like the fun and gun,” Burdette said. “They play at a fast pace and throw it around. They want coaches who share that philosophy. It’s a great fit for what I like to do. I’m looking forward to getting started.”
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