Andie Mahalich, For The Miami Student

A USA Hockey internship remembers former men’s varsity hockey operations assistant, Brendan Burke, pictured above. (SAMANTHA LUDIINGTON | The Miami Student)

USA Hockey announced its annual 12-month internship will be established in memory of the late Miami University student and former Men’s Varsity Hockey Operations Assistant Brendan Burke.

Burke died unexpectedly in February 2010 at the age of 21. He served as the Miami hockey team’s hockey operations assistant and was part of the hockey family at Miami.

“Brendan meant as much as any player, coach or trainer to this team,” senior forward Justin Vaive said. “In the end, his impact was large before the accident, but now that he has passed, his impact and influence on this program is at a level where it cannot be described by words, only actions.”

The internship was established for a college graduate interested in the hockey field.

“The Brendan Burke Internship is a fitting tribute to a young man who cared so much about hockey and got so much joy from his involvement with the sport,” Dave Ogrean, executive director of USA Hockey, said via e-mail. “His father, Brian Burke, has been a vital member of the USA Hockey family for many years, and we’re extremely pleased to honor the memory of his son through the establishment of this internship.”

To help fund the Brendan Burke Internship, Laura Wilson, the daughter of Ron Wilson, coach of NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs, competed in a 70.3-mile triathlon that took place Nov. 13. Wilson raised $7,060 for Brendan’s internship.

In late August, USA Hockey announced Cole Burkhalter would be the first to receive the Brendan Burke Internship.

Burkhalter said he started playing hockey when he was only four or five.

“I was a southern boy playing a northerner’s game,” Burkhalter said.

At 17, his career on the ice was cut short when he was diagnosed with bone cancer. Burkhalter pursued a business degree from the University of Tennessee and continued to stay active in the hockey world. Burkhalter worked for the Ice Bears until 2009, when he moved to Buffalo, N.Y. to pursue his master’s degree in sports administration at Canisius College. Upon graduating, Burkhalter happened to stumble upon the USA Hockey website and the Brendan Burke Internship.

Although demanding, Burkhalter said his internship is filled with memory and honor. “I come to the office everyday grateful for what I have been given,” Burkhalter said. “I know the Burke family has been through a lot and I hope that through this internship they can find some sort of happiness and peace. It is a source of motivation knowing what they (the Burke family) have been through to not take anything for granted and to come to work everyday and work hard to honor Brendan and his family.”

To donate to the Brendan Burke Internship, visit