Director Q and A with Justin Burke


Recently, we launched our “Director Q and A” series with Camp Director’s Jonathan Isaac and Julia Garisto. Today, we introduce our Program Director of Baseball Main Camp, Justin Burke!

1. Hi Justin. Tell us about yourself. Give us your 60-second elevator pitch….

I am currently a high school teacher in the Toronto Catholic District School Board. This summer will be my 3rd at NTBC, and my 2nd summer running the programming at Main Camp. I played 4 years with the York University Lions baseball team and then 1 year with the OUA Champion University of Toronto Varsity Blues where I also completed my Bachelor of Education degree at U of T’s faculty of education: OISE. Currently, I am in my 4th season coaching the U of T Varsity Blues baseball team as well as running my high school’s baseball program and I currently coach the North Toronto Minor Rookieball Rep program.

2. Why do you like working at summer camps?

I love how much fun the kids can have at a summer camp. It is a place when all the kids have a common interest, they can make friends, hand fun and learn. It is such a relaxed environment that keeps kids engaged and active doing something they love.

3. What is your most memorable accomplishment as a player?

Winning an OUA championship was such a great experience. The team really became close and really cared for each other, for example, I played with Camp Director Jonathan Isaac at U of T and he is the one who brought me to NTBC. The amount of emotion that poured out of the dugout when we recorded the final out was incredible. It was the result of 25 people working to a common goal. It is something I’ll never forget.

4. What are the similarities between coaching baseball and teaching in a classroom?

Coaching is teaching and teaching is coaching. To me, the two are synonymous. While coaching, I have to understand that all of my players learn differently and find the best ways of instructing to all learning types. I have to find ways to keep the kids engaged and wanting to soak up more information and I have to find ways to allow the kids to show me that they grasped the concept that I need them to learn. Coaches are teachers.

5. What advice would you give to highschool athletes who are considering playing a varsity level sport at university?

Hard work really pays off. In order to be successful in anything, you have to work hard to hone your skill set. High school athletes wanting to play a varsity level sport at university have to be willing to put in the work. Focus on the fundamentals, do the little things right, don’t be afraid to sweat, and make yourself noticed. A varsity level coach at a university wants an athlete who shows that they want to learn and has a great work ethic. Contact the coach and show them that you really want to be there. Work for it.

6. What advice would you give to someone who would like to become a teacher?

Teaching is such an amazing profession, if you are thinking of getting into it, do it! Just know that it is very competitive and you have to be persistent, keep working, keep doing courses. Get in to a board and show everyone how awesome you are.

7. Who is your favourite athlete?

Mike Trout.

8. What is your favourite sports movie?

Bull Durham.

9. If you could have lunch with any 3 people, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

This is a tough one. There are so many options! how about throw back to Jackie Robinson, and ask him what is was like to break the colour barrier. A lunch with Robbie Alomar and Cito Gaston would be pretty nice too.

10. Ranch or blue cheese?

On veggies? Ranch for sure!! On wings? Well, keep the wings and I’ll take the carrot and celery sticks with ranch, thank you.

11. Who’s your favourite super hero?

Silver Surfer.

12. When you put ketchup on your fries: on top or on the side?

On top, for sure.

13. Is a hotdog a sandwich?

Is a hotdog even meat?!

14. Why is Main Camp going to be so amazing in 2016?

Main camp is going to be amazing because we have the best staff. People who care, are knowledgeable and really want what’s best for the kids. We have so many great activities that keep the kids engaged and have such an amazing atmosphere. I’m so excited to get this summer underway and make this the best summer ever at NTBC!

Courtney Berger
Courtney has been involved in True North Sports Camps for several years behind the scenes. She is responsible for overseeing the operations of the business, including hiring and training our staff, marketing, communications, finance and strategy. After having worked at a number of summer camps in the past and dedicated her free time to volunteering with children, Courtney knows what it takes to create a memorable experience for each and every camper.