If you have played an organized sport, you most likely know the incredible camaraderie that you form with your team and your coaching staff. You spend hours working together, bettering yourselves which each other, setting out personal goals while striving towards success as a team. If you were lucky, you had a great coach that inspired you, made you feel safe on the team, and pushed you to be the best athlete and teammate you could be. If you asked what kind of coach Conrad Michael Burke was to his players, they would probably say all that and more.

Wappingers Junior Varsity Lacrosse Coach Passes From Cancer

Coach Conrad Burke of Fishkill, NY, passed away earlier this month, October 5th. The 26 year old coach was battling with sarcoma, a classification of cancer which attacks the bones and soft tissues.

Burke was born in Yonkers, but then moved to Dutchess County where he attended Brinckerhoff Elementary, Van Wyck Junior High School, and John Jay Senior High School. Burke played lacrosse while attending John Jay, and continued playing at Nichols College. He later graduated from Manhattanville College.

Burke, according to his obituary, was an avid outdoorsman who loved to hike and to golf. He enjoyed traveling, especially taking family trips to Block Island.

His obituary wrote:

To all his friends, players and family members: Your success was his success. Your happiness was his happiness. His giving nature and beautiful smile set the standard for all to follow.

Conrad Burke's Love For Lacrosse

Burke worked as a substitute teacher for Wappingers Central School District, where he coached JV lacrosse. Students from all over the school knew the jovial, kind-hearted nature Burke brought on and off the field.

After being diagnosed last spring, his players dedicated their season to him, and wrote his old number of 22 on their helmets. The varsity girls lacrosse team wrote "CB 22" on their legs before games to show support, as well. Wappingers Warriors Youth Lacrosse posted this lovely tribute on their Facebook page, and plan to honor the coach in the spring during their season.

Outside of the school district, Burke also coached a HudsonValley-based travel lacrosse program in the summer, and even competed for the Peruvian national team. He helped them win bronze in the inaugural Pan-American Lacrosse Association Sixes Cup last year, and had planned to play for them next year in the world championship.

Above all, it was his ability to connect with people, to mentor, and to share his passion with others that made Coach Burke stand out. I more than likely played lacrosse against him when we were back in high school. I was a goalie back then, so he more than likely scored on me. Though I never knew him personally, it's sad to hear a fellow Hudson Valley lacrosse player go, especially one as renowned as him.

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