Robert Bruce Burton
Founding Coach, Technical Consultant
Responsible for Minor Track Association, AO, and Masters athletes
Originally a cross-country/middle-distance runner, he became interested in the other events by watching the practices of other athletes after having finished his own. Without realising it, he was picking up coaching keys that he was to use within a few years, when he helped younger athletes at Oakville's Blakelock High School, while still a student there.
During that time, he also coached football and hockey, never failing to have his teams make the Final.
It was at Blakelock that he also discovered chess, and made a yearly trek to Toronto for the Labour Day Open. It was during his final year of High school that he made the final (and $500) at that competition, holding former World Champion Boris Spassky to 28 moves before conceding. He eventually gave up the board sport to concentrate on coaching track, after having accumulated 3.5 Masters points along the way.
After High School, he discovered what was considered a "girls sport" in many schools - volleyball. In his second year of University, he responded to a call for a coach for an under-14 girls team in Hamilton. Within two years, that team, with very few wins to their previous record, was Ontario Champion in a Summer league.
Identifying with the Barry Fitzgerald character in the movie "Going My Way", he started preparations for the Jesuit Brotherhood until the publication of the Vatican II decisions, and its refusal to accept the discoveries of Galileo. He might otherwise have been the David Bauer of track and field.
In University, his concentration was in the Sciences, graduating from The University of Waterloo with a Bachelor of Science, and, on the urging of his Astronomy Professor, a membership in Mensa, an International academic society. His entry to that organisation was accepted as a result of his essay dis-proving The Big Bang Theory using trigonometry and plane geometry.
Fresh out of University, he hooked up with the Oakville Kiwanis Track Club (now Oakville Legion), and took the advice of Head Coach Dave Lee to make the transition from athlete and Team Manager to Coach.
Once firmly ensconced coaching "The Queen of Sports", he very quickly started producing Provincial and National Champions and Record-setters, even though, at the time, he had only basic formal training. Now a complete Level II-certified coach, he has achieved, at his own expense, Level III Coaching credentials in Sprints, Hurdles, Relays, Javelin, Hammer, and High jump, pursuing that information in areas as far-flung as Germany (where he picked the minds of the East German sprint coaches), Hungary, the Czech Republic (where he had tea with Emil Zatopek and his wife Dana in their Prague home), and Puerto Rico, as well as various areas of Canada. With the information gathered and processed, the results of his athletes elevated accordingly.
Under his tutelage, athletes that had previously not made school teams turned into OFSAA Champions, and upsets quickly became the order of the day. Athletes with greater potential went on to even greater heights, with Valerie Tulloch still the only Canadian woman to throw the javelin 60 metres (60.72m), and Donovan Bailey setting an Olympic and World Record over 100m (9.84s).
His coaching credentials have earned him selection as Staff to two Canada Summer Games Teams and three National teams.
His lists of successes can most probably be attributed to closely observing and analysing what the best are doing and his attention to detail, as he watches an athlete's strengths, and, more importantly, the weaknesses, of each. He then sets about to consolidate the strengths while eliminating the weaknesses. But, throughout, he constantly asks himself one question, whether observing elite athletes or designing a training schedule for one of his own- "Why?" Because, as he says, "If a coach can't come up with a logical reason for including something into an athlete's programme, then it's most probably a waste of time doing it, and an athlete has only a limited amount of time to do what they aspire to do."
At the beginning of the Level I Coaching Course (now called Sport Coach), students are asked why they want to coach. His answer; "Because I like puzzles, and the most intricate puzzle known to Man is the human body."
True to form, if he's not watching an event at a track meet, you can often find him under a tree or in the stands doing a crossword or solving a Sudoku.
He moved to Hamilton many years ago, and now lives on a farm in Canfield, near Cayuga, but still makes the twice-weekly trip to Halton County to work with the younger athletes, and implementing training schedules for the older athletes.
"I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past."
- Thomas Jefferson