Coronavirus forced hiring process to go virtual in search for coach

Pandemic keeps new coach at home

ASHLAND, Va. (WWBT)- When legendary Randolph-Macon women's basketball coach Caroll LaHaye announced her retirement on March 25, the job instantly caught Lindsey Burke's attention.

"Just knowing what I knew about the school, I kind of knew it would be a really great fit for me," Burke recalled of seeing the job opening.

A seven-year assistant, Burke has spent time at Mary Washington, Bucknell and most recently Rochester. Her three years at MWU brought her to Randolph-Macon on occasion for away games. Her previous positions were obtained after an in-person interview process, but getting her first head coaching job would require a bit of a different experience.

“I’ve met people in person, I’ve gone on campus, I’ve obviously toured around and whatnot and none of that happened through this process.”

Those are some of the realities of a coaching search in a global pandemic. Burke and Randolph-Macon athletic director Jeff Burns had all of their conversations by phone. Despite not being able to sit across a table from each other, both liked what they heard, and she was hired.

"I thought the fact that we were actually on the phone and you didn't have to continue the eye contact, you could be more at ease, I really thought that was a plus. An odd piece to it, but a plus to it," noted Burns.

“It was all over the phone,” Burke added. “I really had to buy-in. It was really that what they were selling was exactly what I was looking for, too. You could really tell everyone was speaking from the heart.”

Another plus of an in-person interview is an on-site visit. The newest Yellow Jacket got to see some virtual tours of facilities but has not gotten a tour of campus just yet. She says that’s just part of the excitement that’s temporarily on hold.

"Meeting your new team, getting down there, putting all of your stuff in the office... you physically feel like you're here and now you're ready to get started," said Burke, who is still currently in Rochester, but hopes to relocate by early July. "That piece, a little bit has definitely been lacking."

"How does she handle something where she has not been on campus, doesn't really get the feel for it and in a pandemic, when you never know what's going to happen in this educational world? It's kind of a leap of faith on her part, too," Burns said.

A leap of faith, maybe, but a confident one by the new head coach, who certainly has had a memorable start to her head coaching journey.

“I definitely will start with it was in a global pandemic was when I first got my head coaching job, but I can’t be more thankful for the whole process. It was honestly really smooth.”

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