Longtime Palm Bay Football Head Coach Dan Burke Announces Retirement After 23 Seasons With Pirates
By Space Coast Daily // May 30, 2019
DAN BURKE IS Brevard County's longest-tenured head football coach
ABOVE VIDEO: Dan Burke was inducted in the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame in 2014 and inspired players to strive well beyond the field. Under Burke’s leadership, Palm Bay football has made 21 consecutive appearances in the FHSAA state playoffs. His Pirates have captured two state titles, six Final Four appearances, 10 Elite Eight appearances and 15 district titles.
BREVARD COUNTY • PALM BAY, FLORIDA – Longtime Palm Bay High School head football coach Dan Burke announced his retirement after 23 seasons, leading the Pirates into the postseason 21 times during his tenure.
Burke won two state championships and was inducted into the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame in 2014.
A great football coach like Burke does more than teach a game. He inspires players to strive well beyond the field.
Such a coach is Burke, who headed the football program at Palm Bay High School. Under Burke’s leadership, Palm Bay football has made 18 consecutive appearances in the FHSAA state playoffs.
His Pirates captured two state titles, six Final Four appearances, 10 Elite Eight appearances and 15 district titles.
In 2000, USA Today ranked the Pirates among the top 12 high school football teams in the nation. In 2002, the Pirates were Number One in all power ratings for all classes in the State of Florida.
They opened the 2003 with a Number Two national ranking, behind only the legendary Concord De LaSalle of California.
Football has been a strong part of the fabric of Burke’s life since his flag football days.
“I fell in love with the game,” he said. “I really wasn’t a great player, but I played all the time.”
He played for Eau Gallie High School and he played for the University of Central Florida Knights during a period that proved pivotal for both the man and the team.
Burke became a Knight in 1979, the team’s first year and he was part of the team for three more years, starting in all four.
“UCF timed it just right,” said Burke. “Just after I graduated from Eau Gallie, UCF was starting the football program. I was able to grow along with the program, so I really improved.”
His talent didn’t go unnoticed. He earned All American Honors and was named Offensive Player of the Year by the Orlando Touchdown Club in 1981. In 2013, the Knights inducted him into their Hall of Fame.
Burke joined the New Jersey Generals of the USFL in 1984 and the Baltimore Stars in 1985 before heading south again to play arena football in 1991 with the Orlando Predators.
Trading his player’s uniform for a coach’s, Burke began his long coaching career at Trinity Prep in Winter Park.
“I started as assistance coach, but not long after I became head coach,” he explained.
“Your time as assistant coach is when you learn, but I was thrown into the fire pretty much right away.”
From the Orlando area, Burke eventually shifted back to his home turf in Brevard, where he led Southwest Junior High in back-to-back undefeated seasons before he took over the Palm Bay Pirate program in 1996.
“They were 3 and 7, but we were able to turn it to 6 and 5 the first year and we’ve been solid ever since,” said Burke.
NIKE COACH OF THE YEAR
Among his many accolades as coach of the Pirates, Burke was named NIKE Coach of the Year in 2002 and was honored as a guest coach at the First Annual Under Armour All-Star Game at Disney’s Wide World of Sports in 2007.
Cape Coast Conference named him Coach of the Year, as did Florida Today.
American Football Monthly featured Burke in its pages and ESPN Radio 1060 named Burke’s Pirates Team of the Year.
Burke insists that his players and his staff should get the credit, but the truth is that the man inspires his team to greatness.
Many of his players are now on staff at Palm Bay High School, helping Burke train a wave of new players who hadn’t even been born when Burke took over coaching the Pirates.
THE 2020 SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME Banquet and Induction Ceremony will take place at the Cocoa Beach Country Club on Friday, May 8.
TO SUBMIT A NOMINATION to the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame call 321-615-8111 or e-mail Contact@SpaceCoastDaily.com
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