Dan Burkybile

Dan Burkybile — The News-Gazette’s All-Area boys’ soccer Coach of the Year — at his home in Monticello on Wednesday. Burkybile led Monticello to its first Illini Prairie Conference championship as part of a 13-2-3 season for the Sages.

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  • Why he’s Coach of the Year:
    • The repeat winner of this award (though the previous victory came in fall 2019) oversaw the continued rise of the Sages to heights not recently seen. Monticello recorded a 13-2-3 record that included the program’s first Illini Prairie Conference championship. Burkybile’s crew ended the campaign on an eight-match unbeaten streak, which included a 6-0 victory against rival St. Thomas More in Champaign.

    Burkybile’s season highlights:

    • “With the COVID year, we didn’t have a (state) championship to play for. So we were kind of playing for the love of the game, but also a conference tournament was just heavy on our mind. That was one thing we could win. So we dropped a game to Bloomington Central Catholic early — we had about half of our guys out with COVID protocol — and then we tied St. Thomas More at home. So the three of us were bunched toward the end, so to get a win against BCC at home 3-1 and then at St. Thomas More 6-0, those were the two that we needed to win the conference. So those would be the highlights.”

    A sporting event he needs tickets to see is ...

    • a Final Four with Illinois men’s basketball. Been a lifelong fan. We’ve been up and down, and we’re dying for a Final Four again.

    If he wasn’t a coach, he would be ...

    • a high school science teacher. Always been good at science. I’m a pharmacist by trade, which is a lot of chemistry, biology. So I guess it would be a natural transition.

    His favorite motivational tactic is ...

    • at practice, anything we can make into a game instantly becomes that much more intense. They start cheating, they start yelling. So as long as I’m there to fine-tune it, just the level of intensity goes tenfold. So definitely make it a competition.

    His favorite subject to study when he was in school was ...

    • I was always studying science, chemistry, biology, so I didn’t get much of a choice for outside stuff. I guess I would say economics. I like reading up on that now.

    His favorite athletes are ...

    • Andre Curbelo and Kevin De Bruyne.

    His favorite TV shows are ...

    • “Breaking Bad” and “The Walking Dead.”

    If he could have dinner with any three people from any time period, they would be ...

    • Pep Guardiola, who’s a big soccer coach in Spain; Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who’s a German theologian I just read a biography on; and Mary Ruwart, who ran for the Libertarian Party back in the ’80s.

    What he enjoys most about coaching is ...

    • I’d like to think I teach my guys more than soccer — skills that go beyond the field (like) mental preparedness, hard work paying off. So hopefully I’m passing that along. But even just a year like this year, to have memories and just to have that to share with everybody has been fun.

Colin Likas covers Illinois football and high school sports at The News-Gazette. He can be reached at clikas@news-gazette.com, or on Twitter at @clikasNG.

College/Prep Sports Reporter

Colin Likas covers Illinois football and high school sports at The News-Gazette. His email is clikas@news-gazette.com, and you can follow him on Twitter (@clikasNG).

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