This week I sat down with Josh Burke. The Jesuit forward came into Lightning Made Studios where we played some ball hockey and sat down for an interview.
Josh was born in Clearwater, FL. He is a Florida boy through and through. He was introduced to hockey at the tender age of 3 where he began skating and playing at Tampa Bay Skating Academy. From there he played on rec teams until he was seven years old where he began to play for the Junior Lightning. Josh would continue to grow as a hockey player, he went on to become a member of the Tampa 2001 team and for the Scorpions in his teenage years.
I’ll have you know, the craziest part about this interview was before it actually. Before we sat down Josh was being scouted by a team up north. This is new for Senior Spotlight, was Josh trying to flex on me? “No, No, last summer when I traveled with the LHSHL All-Star team to Boston, after the Chowder Cup, I was approached by a member of the New Jersey Titans, an NAHL AAA team. The head coach invited me to try out at their camp. I made the team and I travel there twice a month. I tend to fly out on Wednesday’s to practice with the team. I usually get one practice or morning skate with guys and then we play on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. We play all over New Jersey, Massachusetts, and throughout the New England area.” How does that affect your schooling? “Well, honestly my teachers have been really helpful throughout all of this. They have made accommodations for, as in letting me finish all my assignments as well as letting me take my exams a few days early or in some occasions they will let me take it the following Monday so that I am able to travel and play over the weekends but in all honesty, I have good grades. I have all A’s and one B right now, but I promise you by the end of the semester, that B will be an A!”
On Friday nights when he isn’t on the road traveling he is playing for the Jesuit Tigers! The Tigers are currently in second place in the Andreychuck Division with 12 points. This past weekend including our jamboree, Josh led his Jesuit Tigers to 3-0 weekend. “I consider myself to be a leader on this team. I might not be the loudest or more talkative but I lead with my actions. I lead by example. If someone on my team needs a ride to practice, I will be there for them.”
After the games on Sunday, I reached out both coaches, Jassen Cullimore, and Mathieu Garon.
JC: “I have been the head coach at Jesuit since Josh’s freshman year. As a freshman, he was small in stature and was able to play with and against older and bigger players due to his skill and hockey IQ. Even though he is still not the biggest player he has become one of the best players in the LHSHL. Josh comes across as a fairly quiet person, however on the ice Josh is a vocal leader for our team. He is a hard-working player and person who will do whatever I ask of him as a coach without complaint. Josh also does extremely well in school and has been in the running for scholastic player of the year for the LHSHL every season he has played. The only complaint I have about Josh is that there is only one of him!”
MG: “Josh is a very good leader on and off the ice. He is very versatile and can play forward or defense when needed. What I like the most about him is that he wants to make anyone who plays with him look good. He cares about his teammates and it’s not about him getting his points.”
After high school, Josh, like many seniors in his position with possible routes to choose from, does not know for certain what he wants to do yet. “Playing hockey is something I love to do but it is not my priority, I will probably take a gap year, try out for the New Jersey Titans again, there’s a chance I take a look at the school that just talked to me, and I have been applying to college and if I get into the right one I might just go. I have applied to big schools, mostly up north because I am not a “heat person”. I love the cold!
Speaking of the north, one of Josh’s happiest moments as of late was traveling to Minnesota with Jesuit for the USA Hockey High School National Championship. “This was a first for Jesuit, they have never been to nationals for anything. We did pretty well, we made it to the quarter-finals. We played a team from Arizona that looking back on it, was a very good team, probably the best team I have ever seen at this level, but we played our best game that season and beating them to get into the quarter-finals was something that I am really proud of.”
Josh knows he didn’t get here by himself. “I’d be nowhere without my parents. They have been so supportive of me and their commitment level to me playing has arguably been more than mine. We would drive for hours just for practice and turn around the next day and do it again for a game somewhere else and honestly since I am always on the road traveling for hockey, the best moments for me lately is being able to just be at home, having dinner with my family and doing something together.”
Josh has been a member of the LHSHL all four years of his high school years. ” It’s crazy how much this league has grown. I really like how interactive it has become with the podcasts, all the social media, and things like this, senior spotlight. My only complaint is that I wish we played at Amalie Arena more, but I know that if we make it to the playoffs this year that will be a possibility.”
As always, I really enjoyed my interview with Josh. He is a great kid and a tremendous hockey player. I wish Josh the best going forward but we know he doesn’t need it, he will succeed with whatever path he chooses.
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