The new head football coach has worked in two top Stark County programs

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When Troy Burick officially accepted the offer to succeed Mike Cook as St. Thomas Aquinas head football coach, he made the dream of his life come true.

“Ever since I became a coach, I wanted to be a head coach,” he said. “I love football and read a football book every day, study the game.”

At 47, Burick first became a head coach in high school at a fairly late age after working as a youth assistant or mentor as he quit playing after sustaining an injury in 1993, his first year after. graduating from Massillon, where he played his junior and senior seasons, seeing quarterback action in 1990 and starting safety on the 1991 squad that lost to Cleveland St. Ignatius in the semifinals of division I.

“After I graduated, I first got involved with Clarion, PA, but changed my mind and went to Akron,” Burick recalls. “I spoke with [then-head coach] He and Gerry Faust offered me a favorite walk-on. If I played well, I could win a full scholarship. “

Seizing the opportunity, Burick began lifting weights, trying to develop his body so he could have a chance to play for a program that was in the early stages of Division I after being a small school powerhouse for years. .

Fate, however, intervened. Burick suffered a shoulder injury deemed serious enough to give up playing.

While his playing career stalled his passion for football remained and he wanted to stay involved in the game. It was at this point that Jack Rose, who guided St. Thomas to the State Championship from Division IV in 1984 and to the finalist of Division IV in 1985, and to the new head coach of Massillon, offered him to be coach.

Rose had been the team’s defensive coordinator for Burick’s last year.

“When I played at Massillon, Jack knew how much I loved football and told me that I could make a good coach, because as a player I was coachable, solid and a very good teammate”, said Burick. “He hired me to coach the eighth-grade team at [former Lorin Andrews Middle School] and I was eternally grateful. “

With the door to coaching opened by Rose, Burick enjoys a 15-year stay in Massillon. He stayed with Rose until the latter resigned after the 1997 season, then returned in 2008, when former Southeast mentor and Mount Union linebacker Jason Hall was hired as Massillon’s head coach. He spent seven years with Hall and one year with current head coach Nate Moore.

“I had to do a lot of things working for these guys, from training to [varsity] level, lowest [high school] level or as director of the youth development program, ”said Burick. “They were all big influences. Jack was confident, Jason was working extremely hard and Nate was very well organized. “

In 2016, Burick left Massillon for the opportunity to train at St. Thomas rival Canton Central Catholic for head coach Jeff Lindesmith. Central, who finished second in Division VI the previous two years, rose to the bottom of the ladder, claiming his third playoff title in 2016 with a thrilling 16-13 last-minute victory over the two-time champion. in title Coldwater.

“It was an incredible learning experience,” said Burick. “We played a solid schedule and started season 2-3.”

One of those losses in the regular season was 12-10 against Saint-Thomas d’Aquin, then coached by Badre Bardawil, at home.

“We struggled with our identity when we played at St. Thomas and we made too many mistakes against a good team. [that finished 9-3]”Said Burick.” Jeff didn’t panic our quarterback matured and the kids believed and played as a team. “

Watching Lindesmith mold the Crusaders into a cohesive team that peaked at the right time in the playoffs left a lasting impression on Burick.

“Jeff was the biggest influence because of the way he related to people,” Burick said. “He developed relationships with all the coaches and players and he was good at empowering and trusting other coaches and the players as well.”

After a second season as a central Catholic assistant, Burick returned for his third stint at Massillon. He was on Moore’s squad from 2018-2020 and helped the Tigers finish second in Division II three times in a row.

“I was very fortunate to coach in two great programs,” said Burick. “They both succeeded, but in different ways. Massillon had great community support and great resources, motivated kids to play for the program. Central Catholic had great people who worked together and loved each other, treated each other with respect.

With nearly two decades of experience in high school and in the youth league – Burick took a hiatus between 1998 and 2007 to start his construction business and get married – he decided to pursue the position at St. Thomas which became vacant when Cook resigned to take a job with GlenOak. It was the second time he applied.

“I looked for the job in 2018, but they hired Mike,” Burick said. “I was impressed with the people of St. Thomas and the family atmosphere they had then. When Mike resigned, the people of St. Thomas reached out to me and I really wanted the job.”

Burick not only coached in two tradition-rich Stark County High School programs, but he also played for a third. Growing up in Perry Township and playing his first two years for the football program, recently retired head coach Keith Wakefield ran successfully for 30 years (1982-2003, 2013-2020).

“I started as Perry’s quarterback in my sophomore year in 1989 and loved playing for Coach Wakefield,” said Burick.

Nonetheless, Burick chose to move to Massilon at the end of his second year.

“My mother’s family was from Massillon and they wanted me to play for Massillon,” he said. “There were other Massillon links. [Legendary head coach] Paul Brown was my grandfather’s teacher. I loved Perry, but I also wanted to see what it was like to play Massillon. “

Wakefield wasn’t the only person in Perry who had a strong influence on Burick. Julie Oberlin, who played softball for the Panthers, was introduced to him and they developed a quick bond and eventually got married. The couple have four sons: Luke, Owen, Quinn and Jordan.

“I wouldn’t have accepted this job without Julie,” said Burick. “She’s been very supportive of my training, even though she works in home health care. We both believe in service and selflessness. She’s the ultimate team mom.”

Considering summer and his new challenge, Burick intends to maximize the unlimited training days the state has given coaches between June 1 and July 31 to help with the transition process.

“I need them all,” Burick said with a laugh. “I have to finalize a team. We are in the conditioning part of our schedule and plan to start the football part after July 4th, starting with setting up attack and defense and teaching it.”

Even though Burick took over the program in mid-June, a precedent for a quick transition through a Stark County high school was set in 2005 when Tom Stacy was hired to succeed Rick Shepas as head coach. de Massillon and began a program that successively recorded 4-6 seasons and guided him to a 13-2 record, losing to Cincinnati St. Xavier in the State Championship game.

“It’s something that will motivate me, especially since Tom Stacy was my quarterback coach at Massillon,” added Burick. “He got along well with me and I hope I can do the same to our players.”

St. Thomas, who won two playoff games last season under Cook before finishing 5-3 after falling to eventual Division VI finalist Springfield Local, has graduated several seniors from that 2020 squad, although several offensive linemen are back.

“We plan to release 30 kids ready to play,” Burick said. “This is one of my goals. Another is to use football as a platform to teach players life lessons and if we do that we can create a state championship program because [another goal] is to help this school win a state championship. “

If that happened, Burick would match Rose, the man who gave him his first coaching job, who achieved that ultimate goal 37 years ago.


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