Barely two years since his tragic death in a motorcycle accident, Hope Mills Middle School will pay tribute to former football coach Michael Burks by naming the school’s football field in his memory.
The ceremony is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 1, at 4 p.m. when Hope Mills takes on rival South View Middle School in the annual homecoming game.
Yolanda Epps, principal at Hope Mills Middle, still remembers the day when Burks died following the accident that occurred just after the school’s football game.
Epps described Burks, who was a health and physical education teacher as well as football coach, as a wonderful person with an impeccable reputation.
“He was a mentor to children, a friend to most, a dad to a lot of our young men and ladies who did not have a father figure in their lives,’’ she said.
“He was a wonderful person. Our kids absolutely adored him. Anyone that ever met him would say the same thing.’’
Epps had not been principal at Hope Mills Middle long before Burks passed away but said they had quickly become friends.
Plans to name the football field for him started last summer, she said. A survey was sent out to faculty, who supported naming the field for Burks, then an application process was pushed through the Cumberland County Board of Education, which game its final approval.
Epps said the school has ordered a sign to be placed on the field and she’s hopeful it will arrive in time for the dedication ceremony, which will take place at halftime of the football game with South View Middle.
“We’ve gotten approval to extend halftime to get all the ceremony taken care of,’’ she said. She added that members of Burks’ family from West Virginia have been invited and will be coming down to take part in the ceremony.
She’s also hopeful many of his former students will attend the event. “A lot of kids who played on this field are now at South View High School,’’ she said. “It’s a nice opportunity to come back and be part of something they were once a part of.’’
Photo: Micheal Burks