Cole Burkhalter has been named the inaugural recipient of the Brendan Burke Internship in the hockey operations department of USA Hockey, the sport’s amateur governing body, based in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Burkhalter grew up playing hockey in Knoxville, Tenn., but was forced to shift his attention from player to hockey operations at the age of 17 when he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in his knees. Burkhalter recently interned with the Canisius College hockey team while working on his Master’s Degree, and he has coached at Nichols School Prep in Buffalo.
The Brendan Burke Internship was established in honor of the late Brendan Burke, the openly gay son of Brian Burke, the general manager of the 2010 U.S. Olympic Team and the Toronto Maple Leafs. Brendan, a student assistant for Miami University’s hockey team, was killed in a car accident on Feb. 5, 2010.
“The Burke family is very excited that Cole Burkhalter has accepted the inaugural Brendan Burke Internship with USA Hockey,” said Brendan’s older brother, Patrick Burke. “We received numerous impressive resumes, but after a careful review of the candidates and a thorough review of their qualifications, USA Hockey and the Burke family agreed that Cole would be a terrific choice.
“He is a young man of high character and strong work ethic. The praise from his past employers was universally and overwhelmingly positive. We believe he has a bright future in hockey, and, more importantly, is a good person who will carry on Brendan's legacy of kindness, honesty, and inclusion. We are confident he will be a strong representative for USA Hockey both in and out of hockey arenas.”
When Brent Sopel agreed to join the Chicago Gay Hockey Association (CGHA) this past June on the CGHA’s float—along with the Stanley Cup—in the annual Chicago Gay Pride Parade, he did it to honor Burke.
“The Burke family continues to be grateful to USA Hockey for establishing this internship to honor Brendan's courage and spirit, and for their guidance throughout this process,” Patrick Burke said.
The annual 12-month internship was recently announced and is intended for a recent college graduate interested in hockey operations as a career.
The internship has been established in memory of the late Brendan Burke, who passed away unexpectedly on Feb. 5, 2010, at age 21. Brendan, the son of Brian Burke, general manager of the 2010 U.S. Olympic Men's Ice Hockey Team, was a student at Miami University and served as a hockey operations assistant with Miami's men's ice hockey team.