Baldwin coach, teacher and mentor Darius Burton nears milestone

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Baldwin High will soon win a men’s basketball game and give Darius Burton another milestone, his 350th victory as the Bruins coach.

He was an All-American point guard for the program, and he’s still good at passing.

In this case, it is credit.

“It really didn’t sink,” Burton said Wednesday. “But it’s not about me… It’s about the people around me, all of the great assistant coaches I’ve had and all of the great players that have gone through this program. You’re only worth anything. your assistance.”

But over the past 22 seasons, he’s been the driving force behind it all as the face of men’s basketball Baldwin.

Burton, with the help of his players and assistants Jon Henry and Alvin Woods, is 6-1 this season. His overall score is 347-89.

And yet to define him solely by his number of victories and his three Long Island and six Nassau AA championships and his 13 conference titles would be shortsighted.

Between coaching, teaching and mentoring, he has touched the lives of so many Baldwin children so positively since 1999.

“He is probably one of the most valued staff in the district, both students and staff,” athletic director Eduardo Ramirez said.

“He has a huge impact on the community, a huge impact, one of the most respected members of the community, both in athletics and non-athletics.”

Chris Manning moved to Baldwin from Queens for his sophomore year and joined Burton University.

“He taught me how to be a point guard… The fundamentals of the game, how to be a leader,” Manning said.

Manning went on to become an All-Long Island talent and a standout D-III at SUNY Plattsburgh.

These days he’s coach Manning, a 31-year-old assistant at Rochester, his fourth college stop.

“As a person, [Burton has] been a mentor to me since that sophomore year of high school, ”Manning said. “This is one of the reasons I continue to coach and try to be a mentor for student athletes.

Senior center Jacob Oka described Burton’s style as both a “howler and a father figure.”

“It helps me see what talent I have,” Oka said. “He really pushes us to be better and bigger than everyone else. He’s a really good coach. As a person he helps us to be men and prepares us for the future.”

Burton, whose father, Darius, was a longtime coach at Lawrence, took over in 2000 after his former coach, Mike Cohen, retired. Burton’s teams always play hard, defend and play fast. Ramirez said he was a great competitor but was “a man of a soft voice and gentle manners” away from the games.

This Baldwin High physical education teacher is a popular presence in the school’s mentoring-mentee program. His mentees included basketball players and other students, boys and girls.

“I feel like a lot of kids feel like they can talk to me about certain things,” Burton said. “And I think they admire me. It makes me feel good too, because at the end of the day, one of the reasons I became a teacher, period, is to help young people.

“I hope I can help someone or make a difference in someone’s life… I try to tell them that I’m here for them. ‘If you need me for anything, come on over. see me.’ ”

Burton, who moved to Coram in 2005, had moved from Queens to Baldwin after seventh grade. He wasn’t just a great high school basketball player. He was also a two-time All-American striker in football and was drafted heavily.

But the 1993 graduate got a basketball scholarship at Hofstra and scored 1,060 points in four seasons, the last three under famed Jay Wright. Burton is third in career assists and fourth in interceptions. He then played a season of minor league basketball.

“I think I was better at football,” said Burton. “But basketball was my true love.”

As a fifth year student at Hofstra in the fall of 1997, Burton returned to football. He hadn’t lost touch, winning All-America East honors and being named Rookie of the Year.

“They always make a joke now as a former Hofstra: I’m the oldest rookie of the year,” Burton said.

He is now 46 years old. Burton has coached several sports, from basketball to soccer, baseball to badminton.

So is Baldwin forever for him?

“I love it here,” said Burton. “I love my colleagues. I like children. I want to give back to a community and a city that was good to me when I was growing up. Once you retire, who knows? university rank. I have eight years left to turn 30. But I’m here forever right now. ”


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