BOULDER – Patrick Burke wakes up in the middle of the night during the offseason in July thinking about what he needs to do to make the Fairview boys basketball team better.
The head coach has poured his heart and soul into the program over the past five years, and is well known for his all-consuming dedication to the Knights. With Burke and his wife Angela Grosso-Burke expecting their first child sometime in the coming week, Burke was faced with a difficult choice.
Knowing himself incapable of being all-in on two things he loves dearly, Burke chose his family over basketball and has decided to step down.
“For me, my life is about to be changing pretty drastically,” Burke said. “When I took the job five years ago, I never really thought I would give it up. I thought it was something I would do until I stopped teaching or somebody kicked me out. But one of the things I’ve realized over the past few years is that I tend to pour myself into the basketball program and to be competitive in 5A, it’s 12 months out of the year and a constant 24-7 thought process.
“This is my wife’s and my first child. When we found out we were pregnant, it was something that I thought I wouldn’t be able to do both because I don’t think I would be able to be all in. I want to spend as much time as a can with my son and I knew I couldn’t coach and be all-in on my family at the same time.”
Since Burke too over for mentor Frank Lee in 2015, the Knights have posted a 79-45 overall record and have reached the postseason in all five seasons. In each season under Burke, the Knights have posted a better record than the previous season and advanced further into the Class 5A state tournament. This past winter, the Knights went 23-3 and were hours away from playing in the semifinal round for the first time since 2010 when the spread of COVID-19 forced CHSAA to cancel the remainder of the winter sports season.
Burke, whose Knights have won three straight conference titles, was voted coach of the year in the Front Range League for the 2019-20 campaign.
A social studies teacher at Fairview, Burke grew up in San Francisco and his father coached varsity basketball for 22 years. While he has fond memories from back then, Burke has come to understand the year-round time commitment required to coach high school basketball with team camps in summer, open gyms and preseason leagues in the fall, and all the offseason planning that goes into building a winning program like Fairview’s. When the 2019-20 season ended the way it did, he had to think long and hard about what was best for his growing family.
“Growing up, I remember all the fun times like sitting on the bench and being around the team,” Burke said. “But it does take a lot of time and you do miss a lot, and I want to be there as much as I can for my wife and my son, so I just felt like it was the right time to give it up.”
Burke walks away from a team that returns the bulk of its roster and has a chance to be even better next winter. When the 40-year-old basketball lifer made Fairview athletic director Allen Howlett aware of his decision two weeks ago, Howlett said he was saddened but understood.
“It doesn’t take just one year to put a team together like that and make it to the Final Four,” Howlett said. “You can tell how much love and work he has put into the program over the years and I’m super proud of him. He loves those kids and he’s a great mentor of young men. He’s going to be hard to replace.”
Howlett said he plans to post the job opening this week. With Burke stepping down, Riley Grabau leaving Boulder for a job at the University of Wyoming and Gail Hook stepping down at Erie, that leaves three high-profile programs in the BoCoPreps.com area without coaches.
Fairview’s season records under Patrick Burke
2019-20: 23-3, reached 5A semifinals (season halted because of COVID-19 pandemic)
2018-19: 19-6, Sweet 16
2017-18: 17-8, Round 2
2016-17: 11-13, Round 1
2015-16: 9-15, Round 1