Glendale’s Youth Rugby Program Is In For Some Exciting Changes
Photo by Justin Purdy
The hiring of Burke is yet another feather in the Glendale Rugby program’s cap
With long-time Youth Rugby Programs Coordinator Jenna Anderson leaving her position after more than 10 years, it was no secret that Glendale Rugby had some pretty big shoes to fill. Despite this, the hiring committee didn’t have to go far to find a top candidate. In fact, they didn’t even have to leave the City of Glendale, as Director of Rugby Mark Bullock recently announced that Glendale Merlins WPL Assistant Coach Jamie Burke has officially accepted the position to lead the Glendale Youth Rugby program starting in late November.
“Jamie’s experience is hard to beat,” Director of Amateur Rugby, Luke Gross said. “I’ve spent several years coaching alongside her, and the quality of her work, both on and off the field is outstanding. She brings a LOT to our rugby program, not just on a youth level, but in all capacities.”Jamie Noelle Burke was born to Sharyn, a Naval Officer, and Paul, a Marine Corps Officer, at 1:04 a.m. on October 15, 1980 on a United States Marine Corps Air Station Base in North Carolina called Cherry Point. As the eldest of her siblings and offspring of two military officers, she spent most of her younger years on a boat with her mother and then a lot of her childhood moving from base to base, until her mother finally landed in Chesapeake, Virginia where Jamie was able to finish four years of high school at Oscar Smith. “I never really resented moving around that much,” Jamie reveals. “If anything it was more of a feeling of jealousy when I’d meet people who had lifelong friends or who grew up in one house that they called home. On one hand, I realize how that sounds and it was a little sad at various stages in my life, but on the other hand, I make friends very easy and I’m very good at adapting, which makes me very grateful for those experiences I did have.” From early on, Jamie was a very competitive individual. In high school, she played soccer, basketball and football, but jokes about how she regularly got in trouble for being too physical. When she stumbled across rugby at the University of Virginia as a freshman she was hooked. “I couldn’t get enough,” Burke said in a recent Merlins coaches blog posting. “I loved the physicality of it, but also the strategy and finesse. But more than the sport itself, I loved the culture. My college rugby coaches became like a second family. My USA teammates were like sisters. They were my support structure through life’s ups and downs. That sense of camaraderie and connection really pulled me in.” Jamie’s love for the game was evident by her commitment to it. At UVA, she went on to earn All-American Honors in 2000, 2001, 2002, and 2003. In 2003, Burke also won the prestigious Woodley Award, given to the top collegiate player in the country. Following her graduation, she went on to play rugby for a number of clubs around the country, catapulting every team she played with to the top of their respective divisions. The Washington D.C. Furies, the Berkeley All-Blues, Beantown RFC, Raleigh Venom, and, of course, the Glendale team. She also made her debut for the USA National Team (in 2004) and went on to play in the 2006, 2010, and 2014 Women’s Rugby World Cups. At the top of her game in 2010, she was a team captain at the 2010 Women’s Rugby World Cup and received several awards including IRB World Cup Dream Team.