Shari Burrus: Doing it her way for decades


Charleen Darra

At an after-school practice, Varsity Cheer Coach Shari Burrus plays music for the team’s state routine.

Olivia Ellison, Sports Editor

Coaching the Millard South Varsity cheer team since 1999, Shari Burrus has been a Millard South Patriot since before the mascot was a Patriot. Millard South Cheer is renowned for its cheerleading program. Winning a state championship six times, with four of those wins being in a row, from 2012-2015. It’s without a doubt that the common factor in these wins is its coach. Burrus is known for her dedication to the Millard South Cheer program, her undying perseverance, a person who puts family above all, and a person who drives others to their greatest potential.

“One of the biggest things that keeps me going is seeing the girls who I think of as my family, like my own daughters, walk off that mat at state with the knowledge that they did the best they could, and no regrets with the way they performed,” Burrus said.  “I get chills every time I see that look. Winning is the icing on the cake, but seeing everyone happy with themselves is the best feeling,” she said.    

Her coaching career began when her daughter, Reagan, had a varsity cheer coach who had quit. The girls were in the middle of the season, with state coming up soon. The girls on the team had asked Reagan if her mom could step in and just watch the practice and make sure that they were on track and just watch over them in general. There, Burrus found a love for the job and she’s been coaching ever since.

Millard South is in the traditional non-tumbling division of cheer. State is where all the cheer teams in the state of Nebraska get together and compete for first place. Millard South’s last win was in 2020, with Burrus confident in another win for state 2023. 

“We’re ready to bring home another championship,” she said.

Burrus’ coaching style is something that sets her apart from other coaches. Her coaching style is more of pushing others to essentially ‘coach her.’ By having her team explain things and direct each other, they become more immersed, and they learn from themselves and each other. It makes them watch for things they may not have noticed before. It builds confidence in the girls. This is a style that won six state titles, and potentially seven. 

“I would say that when Shari coached, she liked to stick to a schedule. I like[d] how she had stuff for us to work on each practice, and would sometimes let the older girls take control over practice,” said alumni Millard South varsity cheerleader, Paola Kangni-Soukpe. 

“I think what keeps me going is a lot of things,” Burrus said. “The biggest one is seeing girls tryout, and seeing the potential in those girls you know? And seeing them live up to that potential, sometimes even going above and beyond that, is just amazing.” 

Burrus also says that the relationships she forms with the girls and the relationships they form with each other, are another factor to her staying as a coach. 

“I’m very protective of the girls, because I see them as my own. And it may seem like I’m being harsh on them, but honestly, I just know what they can do, and I want to push them to get to that point,” she said.

Burrus continued to explain how one of the reasons why she’s still with Millard South, is because of the support of her family, and specifically her husband, Mark.   

“I do want to say, I would not be where I am if it wasn’t for Mark. Mark is just great,” she said. “He offers to help with rides to games, he helps organize my schedule with me, and overall is so supportive of everything that I do. He seriously is the best,” Burrus said. 

Her husband is one of her biggest supporters, with her family being another as well. Her daughter, Reagan, who was once on the cheer team, now has her own children who participate in Patriot Cheer/Dance Clinics. At these clinics, kids can learn dances, cheers, and then perform at high school varisty basketball games at the end of the night. With this activity being in their lives, they can get even closer to their grandma, all while  being a pillar of support without even knowing it. 

Burrus also has a day job at the Hy-Vee Pharmacy off of Stony Brook Blvd, working full-time since COVID began.  So how does she manage to plan and coach Varsity cheer, and then go to her day job, while balancing enough time for family? 

“Well, Mark and I meet at the beginning of the week, and talk about everything going on in that week. We help each other stay organized and of course, he always offers to help out.”

After so many years of being a coach, Burrus has proved to everyone that she is someone who sticks to aspirations, and continues to push people to fulfull their own.  

“I love the girls and the connections and confidence that they leave the team with. Every year, a girl with the potential I know she has, grows and learns beyond that, and every year it makes me realize that that’s the reason why I’m doing this. I love seeing those girls grow.” “I don’t see myself stopping anytime soon,” she said.