GREENVILLE – It was quite a two-week span for Greenville native Jacob Burk.
The 2012 Greenville graduate went from being student assistant coach for the Wright State baseball team to being a graduate assistant coach at the University of Central Missouri to coming back to Wright State as an assistant coach working with pitchers and outfielders. He will also be the camp coordinator.
And despite all the moving and shaking going on, he couldn’t be happier.
“Wright State is a very important place to me,” said Burk, who pitched for the Raiders for three years after high school. “This is an important role and I am just very fortunate and happy to be here.”
Burk said he spent 12 days at Central Missouri before coming back to WSU. After he had gone there, he was asked by new Raiders head coach Alex Sogard, who replaced Jeff Mercer, to join the staff.
“Typically you go from being a student assistant to then being a graduate assistant to then looking for a paid position at the next level,” Burk explained. “That was my plan. I was going to Central Missouri as a GA and then hopefully to a paid position in a few years.
“So to basically skip being a grad assistant and to be back where I want to be in the position I want to be in and making money at it is a dream come true for me,” he added.
Burk credits several people for his coaching passion, one of them being his former WSU coach Jeff Mercer.
“Jeff had an incredible impact on my coaching career,” Burk said. “He laid out a five-year plan for me about three years ago and it has gone almost exactly as planned. Nate Metzger and Josh Parker have also been a big part of my coaching career. All three of them have really pushed and developed me to be where I am right now. I wouldn’t be in the college coaching ranks without them.”
Burk’s interest in becoming a coach came during his senior season at WSU. Due to an injury, Burk wasn’t able to play and spent more of his time acting like a player/coach. It was Sogard then who steered Burk in the direction of coaching, Burk said.
“When I was a player I remember being told that if had a passion for something to chase it and never lose faith,” Burk said. “So I just began to work really hard to put myself in the best possible position. Baseball is something I love and if couldn’t play professionally then I could live out my dream this way.
“When I was in high school I never thought I would have a career in baseball,” he continued. “I wanted to be a college quarterback. Football was easy to get attached too but it wasn’t until the last year that I really began to focus on baseball and play college baseball.”
Burk said he spent his freshman year at the Wright State University-Lake Campus and then played three years for the Raiders. While at WSU, Burk said the team won 43 games in 2015 and went to the regional finals in Illinois. Then in 2016, the Raiders won 46 games and went to the regional finals in Louisville. The won 125 games in all during his time as a player.I just began to work really hard to put myself in the best possible position.
“It was a very exciting experience,” Burk said. “To be able to play some during that time and win a few of those games and also to play against some of the Power 5 schools was an incredible experience.
“More than anything else, I learned how the game is played at the highest level,” he continued. “And the speed it takes to play the game, it is way more competitive than I thought.”
At Greenville, Burk said he was a third baseman and right-handed pitcher. The Green Wave won a district title his junior year and made it to the regional finals. He looks fondly back on that time and does so in remembrance of a teammate, Tyler Kuhn.
“Tyler is someone I think about all the time,” Burk said of Kuhn who was killed in a car accident in 2012. “He was the happiest kid in our class. He was my teammate since we were eight years old and he is somebody who I feel is looking out for me. I put his initials inside my hat and I say a prayer and ask him to be with us whenever I step on the field.
“He always had a smile on his face and was such a good teammate,” he continued. “This game reminds me so much of him. He had such an impact on everyone who knew him.”
The Daily Advocate sports editor Skip Weaver can be reached at (937) 569-4316 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow him on Twitter at @skipweaver65.