Few college coaches can match Becky Burleigh’s ability to bring a team ready to challenge for each season’s conference and national titles on such a consistent basis. There is no question that Burleigh stunned the soccer community when the Florida program she started in 1995 claimed the 1998 NCAA crown in just its fourth season of play. But focusing on that obvious achievement doesn’t give due credit to the job Burleigh does year-in and year-out as a tactician of the sport, developing players and promoting the sport at local, state and national levels.
In 18 seasons at the helm of the UF soccer team, Burleigh, 45, has led UF to a NCAA Championship, two NCAA College Cup appearances, 12 Southeastern Conference titles and 16 NCAA Championships berths. Along the way, Burleigh picked up National (1998) and SEC Coach of the Year (2012, ‘10, ‘08, ‘00 & ’96) honors. Her career winning percentage of 77.0 (401-108-33) ranks No. 3 among the NCAA Division I Active Coaches.
The 1998 season’s culmination with a 1-0 victory over North Carolina for the NCAA Championship marked a remarkable job by Burleigh, as the program she built from its beginnings used a four-year fast track to the national crown. In 1998, Florida set season marks for best record (26-1), highest national ranking (No. 1), and highest NCAA Championships seeding (No. 2). Florida captured its third consecutive SEC Tournament title and advanced to its first-ever NCAA College Cup. By taking UF to the College Cup, Burleigh became only the second female coach to lead her team to the NCAA semifinals and the first to win the NCAA crown. Burleigh also received the 1998 NSCAA/adidas, College Soccer Weekly and Soccer Buzz National Coach of the Year awards.