Sarah Brown

Sarah Brown (File Photo / April 2, 2014)

When Sarah Brown took over the Burbank High girls' volleyball team in 2007, she stepped into a program that wasn't accustomed to winning.

The Bulldogs has a 6-11 record in 2006 and wallowed in fifth place in the Pacific League, missing the CIF Southern Section playoffs.

In seven years, Brown changed the culture of the program. Now, instead of battling for a place among the lower teams in the league, Burbank fully expects to be among the league leaders.

But, the Brown era ended this week when she officially stepped down as coach.

Brown, a four-sport athlete and 1994 graduate of Burbank, said the time felt right to step away from the job.

"I totally intended to go back for next season, I even met with the girls already," Brown said. "But there were just these little signs here and there that told me that I just don't want to be there right now. There were just those little things and I was asking myself 'Why don't I want to be there?,' and if I didn't want to be there for whatever reason, I really wasn't being fair to myself or the girls by staying.

"All of that added up and made me really come to the decision. I didn't want to be there unless my heart and desire were really into it."

Along with her coaching duties, Brown has also been busy the past few years raising a family and has two children, one who is almost 3 and another who is almost 1.

"That might have had a little something to do with it," Brown said.

Last season under Brown's direction, the Bulldogs went 16-7 and 11-3 in the Pacific League, tying for second place with rival Burroughs.

"Sarah has really been a staple here at Burbank High for a number of years," Burbank Principal Mike Bertram said. "She has really been able to elevate the girls' volleyball program and she's done some great things with the players, as well.

"She has definitely left a legacy and we are going to have some very big shoes to fill."

After taking over the Burbank program in 2007, it took only one season for Brown to get the team on a path to success. She had five winning seasons in her seven-year tenure and ended with a 91-44 record. Her teams qualified for the playoffs in six of seven years.

One of Burbank's most successful season under Brown came in 2012, when the Bulldogs went 18-4 (13-1 in league) and captured the Pacific League championship. It was the program's first title in 37 years, when it was a member of the Foothill League.

"She was a good coach. She always pushed us to be better and better, because she always knew that we could improve as players. She really helped us get better," said Taryn Stevenson, a senior outside hitter.

Brown said she was proud of what she was able to accomplish with the program during her time with the Bulldogs.

"As a graduate of Burbank High, I felt an obligation to the school," she said. "I hope we were able to elevate the level of volleyball at the school over the years and I definitely feel proud about that.

"I just felt that part of my job of being a coach in a high school program was making the high school experience a great time for whoever is taking part and teaching them what it means to be a part of a team and part of something bigger than themselves as an individual. … Obviously winning is important, but I am most proud that hopefully I was able to do that."