Evanston Township High School head football coach Mike Burzawa – or Coach Buzz, as he is known by the students – has joined the Wildkit baseball program as assistant Junior Varsity (JV) coach for the 2023 season.
The stars were aligned for Burzawa to jump into baseball this year, as there was an opening on the JV staff and Burzawa’s spring schedule opened up for the first time in years.
“My daughter just finished playing four years of softball at Bartlett [High School], so I’m keeping myself busy now that she’s in school,” Burzawa said.
This year Burzawa will celebrate his 15th season as head football coach for the Wildkits, and he has been the school’s assistant athletic director for 12 years. He said that because so many student-athletes play multiple sports, there is very strong camaraderie between all the coaches at ETHS.
He and Wildkit baseball head coach Frank Consiglio have a baseball connection dating back to their own days in high school. In fact, it’s very possible they played against each other in 1992 and 1993, when Consiglio played for Elmwood Park and Burzawa played for Driscoll Catholic High School in Addison, respectively.
“We bust each other’s chops because his team beat mine his senior year but we beat his team the previous year, so we both have some good memories of those days,” Burzawa said. Burzawa’s team won the state title in 1992 for Driscoll, which closed in 2009.
Burzawa said that over the years he’s coached football at Evanston, he’s enjoyed watching baseball and frequently joined the coaches and players hitting balls in the cage on Saturdays.
“So, we always kind of joked about me coaching a little bit, and then this year I had the opportunity,” he said. “I’ve been having a blast enjoying it, and you know it’s been nice to be an assistant coach, and not have the million other responsibilities that a head coach has.”
Burzawa played outfield in high school, and he’s now coaching the JV outfielders alongside Mark Metz, the head JV coach, who is introducing him to new things on a daily basis, he says.
“Being with Mark every day has been phenomenal and we’re having a great time together coaching first base,” he said.
Metz said he is extremely fortunate to have Buzz as a partner in getting the JV players ready to compete at the next level.
“As a player he was a member of a state champion team at Driscoll, and he also played some college ball, so he knows the game,” Metz said. “Perhaps more importantly, he is an experienced and highly successful professional coach. He knows how to motivate, support and communicate with our student athletes.
“Buzz is genuine. High school kids can spot insincerity a mile away, but they know Buzz is 100% real. He brings great energy to everything we do. I think we make a good team. I learn things about coaching kids from him every day, and I hope he is learning a few things specific to coaching baseball from me.”
Burzawa said one of the main reasons he decided to coach baseball this season was because he remembers that his best coaches all coached him in multiple sports.
“It had a huge impact on me growing up, and I am still very close to them to this very day,” he said. “In baseball, you know, each at-bat counts, each pitch counts. There is a lot of strategy involved, and I’ve always loved the game.”
He added that many of the focus areas in the baseball program are the same across all sports, such as the emphasis on academics and support provided – and he enjoys helping with that part too.
“I’m able to help and assist with the academics and the study tables, which is a big piece,” he said, “and the baseball team has had one of the highest GPAs in our athletic programs over the years for the boys.”