Greenpointers is sad to report the passing of beloved girls soccer coach Mark Burzynski on November 16 after a battle with stage 4 cancer.
For nearly seven years, Burzynski was heavily involved with the soccer community in Greenpoint and Williamsburg, including offering free girls’ training sessions in McCarren Park throughout the pandemic. After experiencing back pain that resulted in an advanced-stage cancer diagnosis, local families came together to set up the Coach Mark Trust GoFundMe in his honor for the purpose of assisting with medical bills. But when it came to Burzynski himself, his goal was much simpler: Get more kids, especially girls, involved in team sports.
“He plays soccer, he’s a referee, he works for a local league, and also coaches kids, which is his big passion. During Covid, he took some time to get kids out of the house every morning to practice free of charge, just to relieve the parents and get the kids working out and socialized. And I think the parents have been really appreciative of that … What he did over the past year brought the community together. They took it upon themselves to set up the GoFundMe because they appreciate all the work he’s done for the kids,” Bernice Kelly, Burzynski’s girlfriend (as well as owner and founder of Macha Studio on Franklin Ave), said.
The Coach Mark Trust has since raised $112,527 for the cause as a way of giving back and providing some relief when Burzynski. However, Kelly admits that if it were up to him, Burzynski would put all the money right back into the soccer program. Along with assisting with medical costs, a percentage of the funds will go towards a scholarship for kids to play soccer locally.
“He’s so overwhelmed by this support and so thankful. He put all this effort into building up the girls soccer program while expecting nothing in return. He’s been trying to figure out ways to get something good out of this aside from what has already come out of it, and just wants to see the league and girls soccer program get some recognition above all else,” Kelly explained.
FC Select, the youth soccer league Burzynski was involved with and where he served as the girls program manager, recently completed the Fall 2021 season and offers classics and clinics, private lessons, travel soccer, recreational programs, and more for youth players of all ages.
“He wants something good to come from this really painful experience, so the community coming together and showing up for him, that’s amazing,” Kelly remarked. “He just wants more girls playing soccer, more kids to get involved.”
In celebration of Burzynski’s life, the Coach Mark Trust is hosting a special tribute event at A Bar on November 20 from 9am to 12pm for the community to pay their respects, as well as larger vigil in Bushwick Inlet Park on November 23 at 6:30pm.