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MSSD Athletic Director Mark Burke receives Pollin Coaching Award

December 8, 2009
Arrow Buff


Coaching is Mark Burke’s passion. As MSSD’s athletic director, he thinks of the school’s student-athletes as his extended family. Burke has been successfully building teams with well-rounded student-athletes who strive for excellence in both athletics and academics.

Burke was recognized for his outstanding contributions to the youth sports community with the prestigious Pollin Award, given jointly by the Washington Wizards and the nonprofit organization Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA). He received the award in center court during halftime at the Washington Wizards vs. Philadelphia 76ers game on November 24 at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C.

The Pollin Award, named for long-time Washington Wizards owner Abe Pollin, who passed away the same day Burke received his award, was created to honor individuals who show outstanding dedication to their community. This year, the Washington Wizards teamed up with PCA to honor Washington, D.C., metropolitan coaches. PCA’s mission is to “transform youth sports so sports can transform youth.” PCA has operated in the Washington, D.C., area since 2001, having a positive impact on tens of thousands of local youths.

“It was surreal to receive my award on the floor in front of thousands of fans. That was when I realized its magnitude,” said Burke. “Abe Pollin has made a huge impact in the community, and with his passing I want to continue making an impact in the community in the same way he has.”

MSSD students come from across the nation, most with no prior organized sports experience, including 18 out of 26 players on this year’s football team. Along with building athletic skills, Burke develops well-rounded student-athletes through positive coaching and emphasis on academics. As athletic director, Burke helps his coaches advance their skills, expands options for students, and involves MSSD student-athletes in community service.

In 2008, his first year as head football coach at MSSD, Burke led his team to the Capital Area Football Conference championship. He also introduced rugby to MSSD. The Model 7s rugby team recently defeated Hyde Leadership Public Charter School, 22-17, at the 13th Annual Ambassador’s Shield Rugby Match sponsored by the New Zealand Embassy.

Fox National News recently took notice of the rugby team, airing a story about them on December 7. The segment, from the website “Real American Stories,” is available to view online


–Susan M. Flanigan

8 December 2009


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