Josh Burkart started learning to skate at the same time he was learning to walk.
It didn’t matter if it was playing hockey on an ice rink or on a frozen pond in winter; the current head coach of the BYU hockey team has spent his life on ice. Not only has Burkart been an avid advocate of hockey, but he has also been an active advocate of living the gospel on and off the ice.
“Hockey has always been a part of my life,” Burkart said. “The lifestyle, having the family involved, I’ve always done it. It’s something I love; I love helping other people.”
Burkart was born to a family of six hockey-playing boys growing up in suburban Detroit. One of his older brothers went to play hockey for BYU and convinced Burkart to come and play with him. That was the beginning of Burkart’s career as a Cougar.
“I grew up playing hockey without any other LDS kids,” Burkart said. “I came out to Utah not expecting to go on a mission.”
The BYU hockey team is committed to excellence and balanced harmony in developing individually and as a team spiritually, academically, physically and socially. Burkart’s time spent under these positive influences of the BYU hockey team changed his perspectives, and he went on to serve a full-time mission in the Philippines. When he returned, he had a distinguished career as a BYU hockey player, including being named the team captain three years in a row.
“The thing I love most about the BYU hockey team is the brotherhood,” Burkart said. “Everyone I keep in touch with now from my college years are guys I played hockey with. It’s a fraternity you get to be a part of.”
Burkart hasn’t been the only one whose life has been changed for the better thanks to the BYU hockey team. While playing for the Cougars, Burkart was part of the process that led to three players becoming members of the LDS Church. One of them was one of Burkart’s best friends from home, Adam Farero, who later went on to serve a mission, marry in the temple and lead the Cougars as team captain last season.
One of BYU hockey’s captains, Chris Tuttle, also had the privilege of playing with Burkart when Burkart was team captain. He describes Burkart as one of the most knowledgeable people about the game of hockey, its fundamentals and how to make a player better.
“He’s definitely more than qualified for the job,” Tuttle said. “He’s been dedicated to the team for a long time. All respect to past coaches, but Coach Burkart has the potential to be the best coach BYU has had.”
Not only does the team hold Burkart in high regard as a player and a coach, but it views him as the moral compass they can follow.
“Coach Burkart, when he starts something, he’s in it for the long haul,” said Tanner Bilingsley, another Cougar captain. “He always does everything his best.”
Burkart has shared his passion for hockey as a player, as a coach, and as a hockey instructor at the Seven Peaks Ice Rink, teaching others how to skate and how to play the game he loves. He also has served in the United States armed forces. Burkart currently works as a property manager for Advanced Community Services and lives in Saratoga Springs with his wife and two children.