Thursday, March 18, 2010

Meet Columbia's new football coach

Michael Burke remembers the first time he coached football and the passion Columbia has for its athletic programs.

That was back after he graduated from Columbia High School in 1989.

“I started coaching a midget team right out of high school. We had a lot of success too. I modeled my program after my dad’s (Mike Burke II, who coached Columbia football from 1985 through 2004) at the high school level. That was a lot of fun watching eight and nine-year-olds run a no huddle offense and be so well prepared at such a young age,” Burke said Thursday afternoon.

And then there is the passion of the Columbia fans.

“When I was in high school I was lucky enough to be on a state championship, L-L League Championship, section championships in football and basketball and a District Three runner-up team in both sports,” Burke said.

“The town treated us like royalty. Every one wanted to talk to you, the youth teams wanted to be close to you and the junior high teams idolized the varsity squad. After coming back from a few years off I noticed the lack of admiration from junior high to the varsity. That is something we need to get back for our program,” Burke said.

So now, the 20-year veteran of coaching from the midget to the junior high level to the varsity level, takes the responsibility of turning around the Columbia football program, which went 0-10 last season and had its first winless season since 1958.

Michel Burke III was approved by the Columbia School Board as the new football coach at the high school at its meeting Thursday, replacing Jason Shoff.

So after the start with the midget program, MBIII continued the climb up the coaching ladder or tree at Columbia High School.

“I moved up to the junior high and assisted my Uncle Steve Burke for a several years. We did the scouting for the varsity and that is where the x’s and o’s just really intrigued me. Watching how film study changed game plans and why knowing your opponent was so important,” Burke III, said.

He then became the high junior high coach for a number of years before moving up to the varsity program as defensive coordinator.

“I have had the opportunity to be exposed to football at every level and to coach/teach athletes at every level,” Burke III said. “In high school, my Dad had coaches meetings that were held in our dining room on Sunday mornings so I know what goes into a successful program,” the new coach said.

And he’s the head coach of the Columbia football program now, because...

“Ten years ago Notre Dame couldn’t have pulled me away from Columbia. I had always thought from the time I got involved in coaching I was going to run the football program at some point. I had visions of continuing the success of the program (section titles, district playoffs) and even turning Columbia into a Berwick, Manheim Central or a Southern Columbia and hoping to make a annual appearance in the state playoffs like those teams,” Burke III said.

“ Then some good things happened for me professionally at work and the time I had to devote to the program became a issue. I had to step away for a brief time. I would love to be a full-time football coach, most of us who do coach would love that. I love the game and I love the game planning that is involved. There is nothing like Friday Nights under those lights,” he said.

Now as head coach, the Tide might take a step back in time.

When Michael Burke III played, his dad, Mike Burke II, was his coach and later he coached with his dad. Now, Michael Burke III has the opportunity to coach his son, Michael IV and stepson, Nick Williams. And it will be a lot different between the father, son and stepson, this time.

“I am different than my son. I wear my emotions on my sleeve and always have. So my Dad and I butted heads because of my emotion and his emotion. We were and are just both very competitive in everything. IV is a little calmer, it takes him a little longer to get 0 – 60 miles-an-hour,” Burke III said.

“I come at him differently than my dad came at me,” Burke III said.

“With my dad. I can remember playing at Hersheypark Arena in a District Championship with 5,000 people there and I could distinctly hear his instructions coming out on the floor to me and driving me crazy! Michael IV is much different when I give him instructions,” the coach said.

“He doesn’t like to be talked to before, during and after practice. So I make my point and let it go, he knows my expectations, if I have to say it again it isn’t as “educational” as the first time. Nick, my stepson is just coming into this year with a great attitude and he knows he is going to have it tough on him too. They both know that during supper I am going to telling them things they need to hear and should hear,” Burke III said.

“My wife Laurie does a exceptional job keeping our household together when the boys and I are disagreeing. I know it is difficult to have your father as your coach but I think I have to treat Michael and Nick as any other player and know when to knock them down and also know when to pick them up. I learned a long time ago, you have to know who you can press and who you need to back off and when,” Burke III said.

As for his dad, the Hall of Fame Coach at both Columbia and Millersville, that too will be different.

“We have already had meetings on personnel, formations, verbiage, ideas and goals. I am excited to do this with him and the rest of our staff. It will be difficult at times, but, we both know where that line begins and ends. There has been disagreements when I was his Defensive Coordinator,” Burke III said.

“It isn’t about Michael or Mike Burke. It is about Columbia Football and the pride that we both feel for the school and town. We have both been successful in athletics and he has had an amazing coaching career. I feel very lucky that he is coming aboard to help us,” Burke III said.

After sitting out for five years after the elder Burke retired as Columbia’s head coach, Mike Burke spent a year as offensive coordinator at Hempfield, but spent last season pacing the fences around the football field at Columbia and other places in Section 3, watching his son coach and his grandson play.

“He just didn’t look right in black and red while at Hempfield,” the younger Burke said.

He’s been holding informal workouts with the program for more than a month.

“We have some ideas for revitalizing the football team, town and school and the involvement of all three with each other. I am hoping to be involved with the midget program teaching them how to run a program and letting them know our coaches will be available for X’s & O’s,” Burke III said.

“We also hope to bring back some traditions that were in place when Jack Yohe was coach,” he said.

The new coach will hold his first official meeting with the team tomorrow.

“They know what our staff stands for. We won’t accept a mediocre effort. They also know we can have success this year if they buy in to our vision and structure. We want them to be successful. So leave the i-pods and cell phones at home or in the locker, dress like an athlete and work like an athlete,” Burke III said.

“I ran my own program at the junior high level. I learned so much in those years. It is a great training ground for young coaches that want to coach at the varsity level. I made some mistakes but learned from them pretty quick,” Burke III said.

“Running the varsity program is going to be different. There isn’t anyone with higher expectations for this team than me. I have surrounded myself with the best people I can all the way down to our equipment manager. There seems to be some “electricity” back and that is good. I only want positive people surrounding our program. This group needs to know they can win. They have to expect it,” Burke III said.

“There is so much outside influences for our student athletes today it can be overwhelming. I want to be a positive for them, I want our program to be a positive for them. But I do feel the pressure to succeed right away. Most of the staff has had much success playing and coaching. I told the team already, ‘Hate to lose more than you Love to win,’” Burke III said.

Right now the new staff also include Burke’s brother, Tom, along with Justin Steiner, Mike Graybill, his cousin James Burke, Ryan Strickler and Brett Frey, all former players.

Blog update

I want to thank everyone who has checked into COLUMBIA TALK, which I started on Feb. 3.
Since we no longer have a newspaper, which is truely a shame, I thought this would be a way for me to continue my passion for writing and perhaps keep the town informed of the various events.

Everyone has been pretty good about getting me information, but for the success of COLUMBIA TALK to continue, I'd like to have more news and events sent my way.

I put a counter on the home page of COLUMBIA TALK and I just checked it and the count was 3,181 hits in 43 days. That's an average of 79 hits a day, if you look at it that way.

I know it will be sometime before I hit the one million mark that my friend Jeff Reinhart recently hit with his View from the Press Box blog on lancasteronline, but I feel pretty good about the number of hits and good comments and information I have received.

I do plan soon to be running the weekly police reports from Columbia Borough and also a feature from the Columbia Police and Officer Austin Miller is doing on Columbia's Most Wanted. Those profiles are posted on the big window at the police station.

I've done polls with local questions with what I think are pretty positive results.

Again, thanks for the help and support, and keep sending me the events and stories that make up our town.

Where's the passion?

I am a huge basketball fan. If I were able to drive right now, I’d be out every night. Right now as I write this, I start and stop writing glued to the NCAA Tournament and some big early games.

While I picked Kansas to beat West Virginia in the two offices pools I have entered, I really love the high school playoffs, which end next week.

Last night I was able to make the trek to Coatesville for Hempfield’s second round PIAA playoff game with LaSalle College, the District 12 champs.

Columbia played there before and I can remember doing a game or two when I worked with WSBA Radio.

Now the gym bears the name of Ross Kersey, a coach at Coatesville. I heard the PA announcer say that during the introductions. What I found amazing is, that unless I missed it outside or even inside, I failed to see a mention of this. I mean, who walk into the gym on the hill here in town, you know who it is named after. Okay, enough of the soap box.

But in the many years of traveling from gym to gym and to the state finals whether it be in Hershey or State College, one of the things I marvel at is the passion of the fans, whether it be the student bodies or the adults.

I’ve seen some amazing student body support over the years, not only at basketball, but wrestling and football. I’ve commented on it as well, both good and bad.

The same goes for the adults.

But what continues to amaze me, no matter where I go, is that passion.

I will say this and believe it that Columbia has the most passionate and somewhat knowledgeable fans in all of high school sports, but mostly with the adults. The students are getting better, but they still have a lot of work to do when it comes to the passion of the adults.

I go to games not involving Columbia and I just marvel in the last of passion of the fans.

I’ll use last night as an example. I thought the officiating was great for the first half as they called just two fouls. It did change a little bit in the second half, but there was no one screaming or shall I say encouraging the officials about their calls or to make a call.

I just thought the crowd was too laid back for a state playoff game. I know it was about an hour drive to Coatesville for the game and it was a 6 o’clock start and it was a beautiful day out, but for most of the game, you could actually hear yourself talk (no I didn’t answer myself).

Perhaps too, we from Columbia over the years may have developed an “us against them” mentality, I don’t know. Or, it could be the fact that all of our players come from the same area and not from three or four boroughs or townships and they don’t mesh together.

But it’s very enjoyable to go to these non-Columbia games and being able to sit back, relax and enjoy a game, instead being on the edge of your seat, worrying about the outcome and taking an hour or two to calm down after you get back from the game.

I miss that passion at other games.

I’m proud to be a River Rat, oops, a Columbia fan to be politically correct and glad we all have that passion to support our teams in the good times and bad.

Columbia's number one Yankee fans passes

Columbia lost its number one fan of the New York Yankees and one of the top fans of its athletic programs recently with the passing of "Cork" Carnahan.
He loved the New York Yankees and when I'd see him, we had some fun debates about my love for the Phillies and his love for the Yankees and I use to agitate him about Harry Kalas. He was a big supporter of the football and basketball programs at Columbia, going to the games late in his life with his buddies George and Teedy.
Since he started having healthg problems a couple of years ago, he was missed at the basketball games where he sat up in the corner and at the home games for football sitting up on the top of the hill by the gate.

Here is his obituary that appeared in the Lancaster Newspapers yesterday.
William H. "Cork" Carnahan, age 81, of Columbia, died peacefully, Tuesday, February 9, 2010, at the Lancaster General Hospital. Born in Columbia, he was the son of the late William H. and Agnes Wickenheiser Carnahan. He was married to Barbara Brunner Carnahan for 45 years until her death in June 1995.

Cork graduated from Columbia High School in 1946, where he was a three sport star from 1942-1946. He played football all four years, and was co-captain of the 1945 team. He also played basketball all four years, played baseball, and was captain of the 1946 baseball team. Cork also participated in track on an intramural level.

After graduation in 1948, Cork organized, promoted, coached, and quarterbacked the Tow Hill Athletic Club football team. Cork stood out in basketball, both in the service and around the area. From 1946-1948, he served in the US Navy. He played with the Norfolk N.A.S. Yellow Jackets that won the 5th Naval League and the Virginia State Championship. Cork was named 1st Team all league, all state, and all Navy for two years. Locally, he played with Tow Hill, Marietta Merchants, Holy Trinity Athletic Club, Columbia American Legion, and the East Prospect Merchants. Between 1952-1955, Cork played with all 5 teams, playing every game. In one season, he played 142 games. The Marietta Merchants won six City-County titles and one State VFW title. He led Marietta in scoring for five seasons.

Cork was also involved in fast pitch softball from 1948-1973. He organized, coached, managed, and played with Tow Hill, Hartman's Cafe, Strasburg Bank, Lancaster Lancers, and Old Colony Inn. Those teams all won various league, district, state, and regional tournaments. He also played in several invitational tournaments on the East Coast. Cork was a member of the Board of Directors of the Lancaster Rec. League, PA Major League, and the Atlantic Seaboard League. He also served as Lancaster City-County Softball Commissioner, promoting tournaments in Columbia and Lancaster.

He was a charter member of the Columbia Area Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame, and on May 4, 1985 he was inducted into the Hall of Fame for football and softball fast pitch. Cork was a "Big Fan" of all Columbia High sports, and the NY Yankees!!! His other interests included doing word and crossword puzzles, playing Scrabble, listening to Frank Sinatra and big band music, watching and cheering for his grandchildren in their respective sports, and spending time with family and friends.

Cork was a member of Holy Trinity Catholic Church. He was employed as Circulation Manager for the Columbia News for 28 years. In 1977, Cork moved to California and became the Circulation Manager for the Alameda Time Star. After retiring from the newspaper, he accepted a position in the Security Department at the World Headquarters of the Chevron Oil Company. He returned to his beloved Columbia in 1995.

Surviving are three children: Deborah wife of Thomas Feltenberger of Columbia; Kevin Carnahan companion of Jackie Olmstead of Hayward, CA; Bill husband of Michelle Carnahan of Alameda, CA; four grandchildren: Matthew husband of Dawn Feltenberger of York; Susan companion of Cassius Hibbert of Wrightsville; Lindsay and Kaylee Carnahan of Alameda, CA; and five great-grandchildren: Madelyn, Adam, and Carter Feltenberger; Alexis Feltenberger; and Cassius Hibbert, Jr. He was preceded in death by a son: Michael O. Carnahan; and a sister: Dorothy J. Newcomer.

Memorial services for Cork will be held Saturday, March 20, 2010 from the Clyde W. Kraft Funeral Home, Inc., 519 Walnut Street, Columbia, at 11 AM (family will receive friends from 10-11 AM) with the Reverend Kenneth F. Lawrence officiating. Interment will follow in Holy Trinity Catholic Cemetery. Please omit flowers. Contributions in Cork's memory may be made to: Our Lady of the Angels School, 215 Union Street, Columbia, PA 17512 or Tide Booster Club, PO Box 679, Columbia, PA 17512.

Basketball banquet salute

The Columbia High School basketball banquet was held Tuesday night at A Taste of Styles in the 200 block of Locust Street.

It was a chance for coaches Mark Wisler and Gary Sutton to close the books on their 2009-10 seasons and an opportunity to recognize the seniors Brandon Arnold, Nate Wall, Emily Nobile, Jordan White and Cami Kronenwetter and for them to speak about their high school careers.

Millersville men’s coach Fred Thompson was the speaker and CHS Athletic Director Jim Rhoads served as master of ceremonies.

The banquet also marked the end of an era in the rich history of Columbia basketball.

It was the final banquet for Karl Kreiser, who is retiring after more than two decades in the Columbia program as a coach. He’s spent the last eight years as head junior high coaching.

Kreiser, a 1975 graduate of Columbia High School, also served a decade as varsity girls’ coach and four years as boys’ coach, following in the footsteps of his father, Elmer, who coached the Tide from 1952-1963.

His girls’ teams did very well, reaching the pinnacle of high school basketball, the state finals in 1986, where they fell to a hot shooting Linesville teams. His 1994 boys’ team was beaten in the Eastern finals by Carbondale.

He’s one of three Columbia basketball coaches to win 200 games on the hill – his father was one and Rick Bentley was another.

Tuesday night, Wisler and Sutton, who was the boys’ coach on the hill when Karl was the girls’ coach spoke highly of the departing coach.

“It was a great decision for me to have him as the junior high coach,” Wisler, who was Kreiser’s point guard on that 1994 team, said. “Thank you for all you have done for me.”

“He’s been a great asset to Columbia,” Sutton said.

“He (Kreiser) is an outstanding example of what Columbia basketball is all about,” Sutton said.

Kreiser when speaking about the junior high team , said he enjoyed his final year of coaching. He had basically a team of eighth grade players playing freshman.

“Like my dad, I have always been proud to say Kreiser from Columbia,” he said.

Rhoads also thanked Kreiser for his dedication to Columbia.

“He’s always been one of the guys I could go to,” the athletic director said.

When you think of basketball in Columbia, one of the names I’ve always been asked about during my career in journalism is Kreiser. I’ve know Karl all his life and I can remember growing up as kids, me on Barber Street and him a block up on Grinnell Avenue, basketball was a very important of his life.

His dad was without a doubt well ahead of his times when he coached and Karl applied that knowledge during his playing career under Tom Hollingsworth and George Hanna.

When he became a coach, you knew he would be successful.

I can still remember the year before the girls lost in the state finals, during the first of what would become the annual Friday treks to the state finals, sitting in the old, well it wasn’t that old back in 1985, telling me his girls would be playing here next year. They were and were set up for a nice run of more trips to the state finals, but injuries and other teams getting better, derailed that.

He took over the Tide boys some 30 years after his dad coached and continued the success of the program, narrowly missing another trip to the state finals, but ending a drought of the lack of district titles up on the hill.

He gout out of coaching for a few years when his sons, Matt and Will were young, but the itch to coach was there and he was back in the game he loves coaching in the CBAA program and then up to the junior high, where he battled some health issues.

There are now big shoes to fill because the junior high level is very important as a training ground for the varsity.

Karl will still be a fixture with the “rest of the coaching” crew in the northeast corner of the gym named for his dad and still barking out helpful hints for those on the floor and on the bench.

It will just be a little different next year not hearing his “voice” from the coaching box.

Graybill to leave Columbia

Lancaster Newspaper story, 3-17

Conestoga Valley school board filled a vacancy Monday at Brownstown Elementary by hiring a principal from Taylor Elementary in Columbia Borough School District.

The board hired Andrew S. Graybill to replace Kelly Cartwright, who was promoted in December to serve as the district's director of elementary education.

Graybill will lead the staff at Brownstown, which serves 476 students in kindergarten through sixth grade.

He said, "Taylor is a small school, and the challenge of administering a larger student population has always been interesting to me. My wife is a CV grad, and I've worked with some of the principals in the district, so I know CV is a great place to teach and learn."

A date for Graybill to begin work in Brownstown has not yet been determined.

Graybill began his career in education as a middle school social studies teacher in the Harford County (Md.) Public Schools and joined the social studies faculty at Columbia Junior/Senior High School in 2003. He became assistant principal for the school in 2005 and was promoted to principal at Taylor Elementary in 2006.

Before he began his teaching career, Graybill worked as a foster care case manager and psychiatric assistant at Philhaven psychiatric hospital in Lebanon County.

CV Superintendent Gerald Huesken said the district "received more than 50 applications for this opening with almost half of them from individuals with active experience as a principal or assistant principal.

Graybill earned a master of education from the College of Notre Dame of Maryland in 2005 and is pursuing a doctor of education degree from Immaculata University. He earned a bachelor's degree in sociology at Messiah College and a social studies certification from Millersville University.

Graybill lives in Lancaster with his wife Andrea, and their two children, Hannah, 8, and Ben, 6.