Building a Dream – Local Coach Pursues a Calling

May 22, 2018 02:30 PM

(ABC 6 News) – The job and duty of a coach are to instruct, mentor, and develop athletes, a passion for many coaches—which can make it harder for those coaches to step away when it’s time to move on.

Coaching is a passion for Rochester-native T.J. Burget—what he loves to do is make an impact in a person’s life.


Instead of using the drawing board to put together a quick play in the huddle, Burget is now helping move chalkboards into the classroom, transitioning from something he loves to do to something he feels he was meant to do.

On the basketball court at Schaeffer Academy, Burget helped lead the Lions’ boys’ basketball program to prominence.

"He's been a great coach for us,” Schaeffer Academy Activities Director Jeff Morgan said. “He's really taken our program from the kind of the bottom of the barrel when he started here."

Burget isn’t just a basketball coach—in Morgan’s words, he’s a fan of all Schaeffer Academy athletics.

“Off the court, he’s a great guy to be around,” Morgan said. “He’s really a team player, he supports all other sports.”

Two or three years ago, Burget felt pressure to move on from coaching. This past winter, after seven years as the head coach at Schaeffer Academy, Burget made a tough decision to step down from his head coaching post.

“It’s unknown at the time, and it’s a little bit scary even, I decided that this was time to go,” Burget said. “It was tough. I love coaching, it’s something that I’m very passionate about.”

Schaeffer Academy junior basketball guard Dane Bothun said it hurt hearing Burget’s decision to resign following the recent basketball season.

“I kind of felt down after that,” Bothun said. “It was a tough moment. There was kind of a silence in the locker room. We weren’t really sure what to say.”

Burget chose to move on because he’s steering his focus away from one passion (coaching) to a calling.

“Everything was kind of a birth of a crazy vision, a crazy dream a crazy dream that I had, and it’s taken off from here,” Burget said.

That vision and dream are to build schools, train teachers, and provide resources for schools and teachers in third-world countries. With this dream, Burget has started a non-profit organization called “Schools to Give Hope,” and he couldn’t wait any longer to get started.

“I could tell it was a struggle for him that he wants to be here as a coach,” Morgan said. “But you can tell by the smile on his face knowing that he’s doing the Lord’s work overseas and really feels like that’s what his long-term goal and purpose is.”

“I’d look another seven years down the road and be like ‘I should’ve gone when I was there.’” Burget said. “It’s always tough when you like something, you love it and you have a passion for it to move on, but when it’s time, it’s time.”

Instead of helping kids become better basketball players on the court, Burget is now turning his attention towards giving kids in third-world countries to the opportunity to earn an education.

“We want to give them hope,” Burget said. “We want to allow them to have dreams instead of just saying ‘well, I grew up in this house, so I’m going to be this person for the rest of my life.’ We think with the education, it’s going to open up new doors.”

“If they want to be a doctor, if they want to be a nurse, if they want to be a lawyer, if they want to do something else, that opportunity will be there and they won’t be pigeon-holed.”

Currently, in Kalaw, Myanmar, Schools to Give Hope is helping 60 kids, helping kids combat sex trafficking and child labor with education. It’s a good first-step forward for Burget and his organization, but he has loftier goals.

“The vision is that we’ll be able to influence hundreds of thousands of kids,” Burget said. “It’s what drives you and drives me, and I think it’s great to see that it may be something small now, but it’s going to turn into something big in the future.”

“If you have someone in your corner who believes in you 100%, the sky is the limit.”

Burget and his organization would also like to build up to 100 “hubs” in third-world countries, which could benefit thousands of people. Burget estimates that one hub would cost $45-$50 thousand, while one school can cost up to $25 thousand in U.S. dollars.

“Those hubs, it would be like our training center, so we’ll start a school there,” Burget said. “We’ll use that school to train teachers, and then send them off into other villages, so that hub is there and through that, we’ll be able to partner with either group or in some cases, Schools to Give Hope will start their own hub, our own school, and use that for countries that may not have a resource or a connection there.”

Even though Burget is done coaching basketball, for now, he’s still working full-time away from his non-profit—Burget is a financial representative for Mayo Clinic. Right now, he’s still working at Mayo to “pay the bills,” and he hopes he can solely focus on Schools to Give Hope within the next two years.

Burget may have left coaching, but his love for coaching and working with kids will never leave him (Burget is also a youth pastor), as he hopes to bring his love for the game of basketball overseas.

“I would love to be able to have a couple of schools that were able to put an actual gymnasium in so they can have year-round sports,” Burget said.

In Burget’s words, his organization is going to “change lives,” one school at a time.

“He has a heart for kids, he has a heart for missions, and he has a heart for what he’s doing overseas by building those schools to give hope,” Morgan said. “I think he’s motivated and he’s going to pull all he has into it.”

“When you have something on your heart, follow your dreams,” Burget said. “Go for it, don’t wait for it, seize the opportunity.”

“When people think of giving blood, they think of the Red Cross. When people start to think about ‘how can we build schools,’ or ‘where can we connect with someone who is building schools and training teachers,’ they’re immediately thinking of Schools to Give Hope.”

Burget said he plans to return to Myanmar in October. He’s a coach by nature, so down the road, Burget hopes to put together a sports camp to help teach kids teamwork and dedication.

Burget also said, in an effort to raise more money, his goal is to talk to donors and gain support through that. Through those donors, he’d like his organization to create clothing lines, sell coffee, talk with villages in third-world countries to provide them with a level of service through the non-profit so they can earn money and the schools can earn money—so a community can take care of themselves.

For those interested in donating or helping kids within Burget’s organization, click this link here.


Sean Tehan

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