“Coach Rich Burnett is a true asset to the GAC campus community. He is a role model, a rare blend of high professional competence and genuine care for the students.
Burnett does much more than just tend to the physical needs of our student athletes. He is intentional to connect relationally with our students as he works to build their heart and minds, as well as their bodies. He is a man with a genuine personal faith who has a desire to see each one of his athletes deepen their spiritual lives. He challenges our students to grow in their mental strength, learning to push through challenges with perseverance and toughness. Our students are not only better athletes, but also better people because of the leadership of Coach Rich Burnett.” - GAC Athletic Director and Head Football Coach Tim Hardy
From the moment the sun peaks over the horizon to late in the afternoon, Head Strength and Conditioning Coach Richard Burnett is on campus training and serving GAC athletes in order that they might receive the highest level of mentorship and reach their potential both on and off the field.
Whether this looks like working with athletes in his finely tuned performance class or serving with students on mission trips, Coach Burnett’s unmatched work ethic and desire to make a true difference in student’s lives is what sets him apart.
Originally from Corpus Christi, Texas, Coach Burnett’s story is one of faith, determination, and passion. Four years ago, he left a position as the head strength and conditioning coach at a division 1 athletics program in South Texas to pursue a calling to serve at GAC.
“At the time, my wife and I were both working for a school in Texas, and we knew we needed a lifestyle change. Our current situation wasn’t providing for our needs, and we felt God put it on our hearts to trust him and allow him to move,” said Burnett.
They came to a moment where they realized they needed to pray, live by faith, and trust that God would provide for their family.
“As the FCA huddle leader for the university and a 10th grade Bible study leader at our home church, I realized that I needed to do what I had been asking the student’s to do: pray and live by faith. I knew that brought the most fulfillment, and I needed to trust.”
After committing the request to the Lord, doors began to open. Through a mutual connection, Burnett received a call from former head strength and conditioning coach Gary Schofield offering him an assistant strength and conditioning and volleyball position at GAC, and he immediately knew it was a great fit.
Burnett and his wife sold their home in six hours, packed their bags, and set off for Georgia in faith that the Lord would take care of the rest.
Upon arriving at GAC four years ago, Burnett immediately felt the difference.
“GAC was so different from what I was used to. It was just as challenging, but all of the work is much more fulfilling. The fact that we sponsor more than 20 different mission trips and send students out into the world instead of sheltering them was an affirming factor for me; that this place was truly Kingdom-minded” said Burnett.
He began his career on campus serving under Coach Schofield and Kristy Shelton as the assistant strength and conditioning coach and assistant volleyball coach, respectively. After Schofield left and Shelton retired, he became both the head volleyball coach (leading our girl’s Varsity team to the final four last year) and eventually the head strength and conditioning coach.
Now as the Head Trainer, Burnett runs the entire Sport Performance Training Program and facilitates all off-season training as well as runs the Sport Performance summer camp offering.
“The autonomy I have here keeps me doing what I love. People trust me with their students and the program. And it’s because so many people have invested in the program before me; namely, Coach Gary Schofield who developed this program from scratch and mentored me, showing me how to continue in the culture of excellence that he left behind. Today, I’m incredibly grateful for the volume of athletes, the quality of the program, and the amount of trust we have,” he said.
The program’s mission is to teach the core values of discipline, work ethic, commitment, integrity, and a positive Christian attitude while empowering the student to maximally develop skills that will directly translate to improved human performance and a lifetime of wellness.
“Everything we do is for the athlete. The way we try to address every athlete’s needs is strategic. The program is incredibly nuanced and has modifications to meet every person’s individualized needs depending on their sport, size, strength, limitations, etc.,” said Burnett.
And GAC athletes feel the difference, too. They know our campus and community is a special place. From the state-of-the-art facilities to the high caliber staff, all athletic programs are intentionally developed and run with the focus on each individual student’s holistic success and growth.
“We truly put the students first. Whether it’s their nutrition, education, sleep schedule, it’s all about them,” said Burnett. “From the exercise selection, to the reps and sets, to the way we prioritize movement, conditioning, and train the different energy systems, our program is designed for each individual student’s needs.”
Throughout the years GAC has cultivated a positive, fun environment for our athletes. While the students are always challenged to grow, the culture is such that they are celebrated when they do their best.
“It’s not about being the fastest or the strongest. If you’re working hard and making progress, we’re going to celebrate you,” said Burnett.
Coach Burnett is much more than your average strength and conditioning coach. Not only does he care about our athlete’s performance on the field, but also for their hearts. For him, faith matters above all else.
“My greatest fulfillment is to see my athletes experience the hidden treasures of wisdom and knowledge in having a thriving relationship with Jesus Christ,” said Burnett.
With that, Coach Burnett leads by example. For the past three years, he’s served on the Honduras mission trip, led weekly Bible studies for faculty and staff, and has been an active participant in GAC’s student life.
“It’s important that kids see the reality of our faith. That it’s more than just a religious belief system. It’s something that lives inside of us and completely transforms our decisions,” he said.
Coach Burnett has his undergraduate and master’s in Kinesiology-Exercise Science from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. He lives in Suwanee, GA with his wife, Amanda, and two kids, Samuel and Caleb.
When Coach Burnett is not at school training athletes, he enjoys being outside, serving at the Gwinnett County Jail Ministry, and attending church at Grace New Hope. In the future, Burnett hopes to visit Yosemite National Park.