Longtime Mount Greylock cross-country coach Scott Burdick earns MSTCA Hall of Fame nod
Over his 35-year coaching career, Scott Burdick was able to amass a host of trophies and titles. This year, though, Burdick is receiving an honor that highlights just how much he accomplished during that time.
Burdick is one of six coaches being inducted to the Massachusetts State Track Coaches Association Hall of Fame. The ceremony was originally scheduled for June 14, but has been delayed due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
"I guess if you stick around long enough and have a little success, I guess you get noticed," Burdick said tongue-in-cheek in a phone interview with The Eagle, "but it was a nice honor."
Burdick joins an exclusive list of Berkshire County coaches and athletes in the MSTCA Hall of Fame. For coaches, Burdick joins Larry Bell — who coached the girls program at Mount Greylock as Burdick was coaching the boys — and legendary PHS coach Rudy Benedetti. Benedetti, coincidentally enough, coached Bell when Bell was in high school. For athletes, there is just Pittsfield's Mary Cobb.
"It's really nice [to join that list]," Burdick said of his company in the Hall. "And, if you are going to coach high school kids for 35 years, and you are in it to win awards, you are in it for the wrong reasons. But if you do it long enough and do it right, you know, these things tend to happen.
"But they're always kind of in the back of your mind, and it's a really nice honor."
Burdick is best known for his time at Greylock and in cross-country, where he turned the Mounties into one of the most dominant programs in the state. But Burdick coached across the state during his 35-year tenure, and also coached spring track seasons for a while. He started at Oliver Ames High School out east, before moving to the Berkshires to coach and teach at Taconic. At Taconic, he coached four Western Massachusetts Division I championship teams, and had a state runner-up finish.
After Taconic, Burdick moved on to Greylock. In Williamstown, he won 11 more Western Mass. titles in cross-country, including nine straight D-II crowns to end his career, before retiring in 2018. With all of that amassed success, Burdick was quick to note that the attitudes of his runners was the most important ingredient for success.
"I had kids who just wanted to work and as I said before, my philosophy was 'as long as the kids are still buying what I'm selling [I'm still going to coach].' They're just into it," Burdick said.
"I do feel I was always in the right place at the right time with kids who are just willing to work and we just had a lot of fun," he added. "Yeah, you know, we just had a blast. And then the people I coach with like at Greylock; there's Hilary Greene, and then there's, you know, Larry Bell, and then Brian Gill with track ... it just was a great environment, it was just so much fun."
When asked, though, Burdick noted just how special it was that Bell — his longtime partner — was in the Hall of Fame with him.
"That's what makes it really, really nice," Burdick said, "is that Larry's in there too. And you know, Larry, [it] doesn't get any better [than him]. He casts a long shadow."
And if there's any doubt about Burdick's credentials as a coach, his former runners quickly put perspective on what Burdick meant to them personally.
"Coach Burdick allowed me to go into every race with confidence all six years," said Jacob Fink, who ran on Burdick's final team. "He supported me equally through the highs and lows, and I will forever be thankful for him. Even more importantly, he showed the same care toward each team member, whether he was an All-Western Mass. runner or just trying to finish the races. Ending on nie straight Western Mass. titles is a huge achievement, but the legend of coach Burdick was made equally through everything he did off the course."
"Coach Burdick's greatness as a cross-country coach came from his ability to understand the way high school runners work," added Sam Culver, who also ran on Burdick's final few championship teams. "He had no expectation that running would be our top priority in life, and in fact encouraged otherwise, but wanted us to do our best when we were focused on running."
In addition to Burdick, other coaches being inducted to the 2020 class include John Boyle from St. John's Prep, Brian Crossman from Acton-Boxborough, Greg Zopatti from Pembroke, John Devine from Longmeadow, and Carl DiMaiti from Bishop Fenwick.
The MSTCA will also honor Jim Morris, Alexandra DeMattia, Amy Fein, Jessica Scott and Leslie Smith with Distinguished Service awards, while Tom Wittenhangen will be given the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Geoff Smith can be reached at email@example.com, at @GSmith_Eagle on Twitter and 413-496-6250.
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