Graphic: Igor Lazarevic
When the Carlstad Crusaders signed Alex Burdette as their new head coach for the 2023 season earlier this month, they knew they were getting a talented young leader for their team.
But they were also getting a vast amount of experience.
The 30 year old Burdette from Pawleys Island, South Carolinahas already amassed an impressive resume both as a head coach and assistant. This past season he was the offensive coordinator for the Istanbul Rams in the European League of Football but prior to that he had worked with the Milano Seamen in the Italian Football League, Wroclaw Panthers in the Polish Football League, served as head coach of the Bialystok Lowlanders, also in the PFLguiding them to the championship final, and was behind the offense of the Hildesheim Invaders of the German Football League, all well before he hit 30.
His college resume includes coaching with Clemson University while they won the 2011 and 2013 Orange Bowl titles
So, although the Crusaders are getting a young head coach, they are also getting a highly experienced and successful head coach.
AFI: What was the deciding factor that convinced you to sign with the Crusaders?
Burdette: Of course, there were many factors that led to the decision, but the most decisive was the opportunity to join such a close-knit organization. The Crusaders are truly a family and I’m grateful for the opportunity to become a part of it. There has to be a strong sense of trust throughout an organization for it to be successful and it’s clear to see that here. Carlstad has a strong foundation of players, management, and community involvement. It’s incredible to see so many people working towards a common goal, and I’m excited to bring everything I’m capable of to the program.
AFI: You spent the last season running the offense for the Istanbul Rams in the ELF. Tell us about that experience.
Burdette: Working with the Rams in the ELF was a challenging experience but one I was able to learn a great deal from. Having the opportunity to work with Coach Val Gunn once again I was able to enhance my knowledge of aspects both on and off the field. The Turkish people I met were very kind and hospitable, I was able to create many friendships during my time in Istanbul.
AFI: This will be your fourth different country. What are the differences you feel between them?
Burdette: Naturally, there are some cultural differences in different countries, but I’ve been lucky to have some pretty amazing experiences. I’m a firm believer in life’s about who you spend it with, and I’ve been blessed to work with some incredible people over the years in Europe. There are too many people to name, but I can confidently say I’ve been blessed to work with some great people who have made my time in each country I’ve been to enjoyable in its own special way.
AFI: The Crusaders have a history of excellence. Do you feel any extra pressure coming into this program?
Burdette: With an organization as successful as this one, there’s an expectation but I wouldn’t label it as pressure. The plans I laid out to the team when I introduced myself revolved around a set of Team Commandments we had at Clemson. Our Team Commandments stress being a good person (on and off the field), being the best teammate you can be, and providing 100% effort. Nowhere in our Team Commandments does it say “win the championship.” While that is our goal, what we zoom our focus on is our motto, “Best is the Standard.” From my experience if we are able to hold ourselves and those involved in our organization accountable to adhere to the Team Commandments and strive to reach our BEST day in and day out, success and championships will follow.