Kurt Burmeister, lacrosse coach, dies

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As a youth girls lacrosse coach, Kurt Burmeister was known for his "Kurt-isms," sayings that were intended to inspire those placed in his care.

"The stick is only as strong as the heart that wields it," he would often remark.

In emails to the girls he coached, he signed off with the following message: "Keep your head in the game, play hard and never give up."

Burmeister died Feb. 25 when he went into cardiac arrest while conducting a lacrosse clinic. He was 46.

The Smithtown resident was named president of Suffolk County Girls Lacrosse earlier this year and coached the Smithtown girls lacrosse fifth-grade team.

"Kurt was the kind of guy who really put forth 150 percent for the love of the game and the love of the kids," said Kenny Costa of Smithtown, a close friend who coached with Burmeister for five years. "There was nothing selfish about anything he ever did for the sport. His focus was always on making the girls better lacrosse players and better people."

Burmeister played varsity football and lacrosse at Corning-Painted Post West High School, near Elmira, and graduated in 1983. He earned bachelor's and master's degrees in philosophy from the University at Albany, and later earned a master's degree in library sciences from what is now LIU Post.

He and his wife, Susan, moved to Smithtown in 1997. Most recently, Burmeister worked from home as an eBook editor for Random House. A book enthusiast, he would often travel to rare-book shops in search of original copies of texts. He enjoyed writing poetry and cited Walt Whitman as his favorite poet.

Said Costa: "He was a true renaissance man who could do it all."

He had a certification from US Lacrosse and became a fixture in Smithtown's youth lacrosse community.

Among the girls he coached were his 10-year-old twin daughters, Lily and Gretchen.

"When he had the heart attack, he was on the field, doing what we loved to do, for the love of the game and for the love of the girls," Costa said.

Kurt Burmeister is also survived by his parents, Kenneth and Barbara Burmeister of Painted Post, N.Y.

The Kurt Burmeister Memorial Foundation has been established to provide financial assistance for his wife and daughters and for future generations of Smithtown girls who wish to participate in lacrosse camps and clinics.

The foundation will hold a fundraising dinner May 10 at Ruvo Restaurant in Port Jefferson.

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