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Junior Addie Flint is a second-year Prowler reporter who is thrilled to keep you in the know. This year, Flint is the Managing Editor for the Prowler Staff.  In addition to the Prowler, Flint serves on...


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Remembering Mike Burch

Burch smiles with his daughter, and her four fellow volleyball seniors before a big regular season game. Photo courtesy of Jaden Harrison. 

On Oct. 12, the Rockbridge County and Lexington City Schools communities lost an influential teacher, mentor, and friend. 

Mr. Michael “Mike” Burch lost a hard-fought battle to cancer this fall, after being diagnosed in the spring of this year.  Burch was influential in every aspect of his life, and he was always striving to make the lives of those around him better. 

He was a physical education teacher for most of his career, finishing out his career at Lylburn Downing Middle School. However, he did not just teach and then go home. Burch was also heavily involved in the high school sports communities after hours. Burch coached various basketball, volleyball, and baseball teams at both Parry McCluer and Rockbridge. 

Rockbridge softball coach Keston Pelter played for Burch on her very first high school team. 

“He was intentional and genuine while working with me,” said Pelter. “One of his famous sayings during practice while running a drill or going over a play was, ‘Let me be you.’ He would come over, tell us to step aside and show us how to execute!” 

Pelter analyzed the influence that Burch had upon her life. She is now a coach and incorporates some of the same styles that she learned from Burch.

“I’m thankful for his guidance and impact on my life. It has helped shape me as a coach today,” said Pelter. 

Burch impacted countless lives in his coaching and teaching career. Aside from Pelter, special education teacher Mr. Andy Coffey was also touched by Burch. 

Coffey was a student of Burch’s in the third grade. He then played basketball under Burch for four years in high school. During his senior year of high school, Coffey even did a teaching practicum under Burch. 

“It was Mike who helped me decide I wanted to get into education. He stayed in touch with me while I was in college and when I came back to Parry McCluer to teach and coach we had to coach against each other,” said Coffey. “I enjoyed our battles because it always brought out the best of our teams. He would always call me afterwards, and we would recap.”

Burch’s impact on Coffey stemmed from such a young age, but it never stopped growing even after Coffey left Parry McCluer. 

“When I was offered the opportunity to come to Rockbridge to coach and teach, he was the first person I called. He guided me my whole first year,” said Coffey. 

I was also lucky enough to be both taught and coached by Mr. Burch. He was both kind and knowledgeable, but had no problem letting you know what needed to be done. 

Over the years I rarely recall him ever missing the chance to cheer us on at volleyball games, both for school and travel. He sat in the same place, so we always knew where to look for encouragement, or even the hard truth, at every game.

The man was a walking sports encyclopedia. He knew the records and stats of every team in the state, for basically every sport in the state. No team went unscouted, and there was never a question of who to ask for the break-down; it was always him.

Burch inspired, encouraged, and motivated others throughout his entire life. There was never a time where he was not trying to help make something or someone the best that they could be, both as a person and as an athlete. 

His legacy will live on in many forms at Rockbridge County High School. One of which is the Michael Burch Scholarship Fund that has been set up in his name to support student athletes who embody him and his values. Anyone who is interested may contribute at any Bank of Botetourt branch. 

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About the Contributor
Nala Shearer
Nala Shearer, Editor-in-Chief
Nala Shearer is an Editor-in-Chief of the Prowler for the 2023-2024 school year. It is her second, and final, year in journalism, as she is a senior. Aside from devoting her heart and soul to journalism, she is also heavily involved in a few other organizations. Shearer captains the volleyball team and is an avid member of the lacrosse team. As well as sports, Shearer is also the social media manager of a local organization known as Project Connection. Though she has a busy schedule, Shearer loves her role with the Prowler because it allows her to reach out into her school and community. She cherishes the relationships that she has built with local small businesses through her restaurant reviews. After high school, Shearer is going to attend Gettysburg College to play volleyball and learn about the Civil War! 

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