Two Longtime Lacrosse Contributors Die on Field
Even in lacrosse hotbeds, the sport resides on the shoulders of coaches, officials and administrators who support it for little or no personal gain. By all accounts, Kurt Burmeister of Smithtown, N.Y., and Joe Cieslak Sr. of Baltimore were two such men. Both died on the field due to heart attacks in a span of 48 hours.
Burmeister, 46, went into cardiac arrest Monday while coaching a clinic for new youth girls’ lacrosse players, according to Smithtown Girls Lacrosse colleague Joseph DeNicola.
“He was running a new girls’ clinic at the local high school and he really wasn’t feeling well, but he went anyway,” DeNicola said Tuesday. “He had a heart attack and died on the field while coaching the girls.”
Burmeister coached fifth grade and travel teams in Smithtown and was recently named president of Suffolk County Girls Lacrosse, DeNicola said. “He was totally dedicated and active — a selfless person that was constantly developing the game by constantly bringing in new people to the game.”
A wake for Burmeister will be held at the Branch Funeral Home in Smithtown on Thursday from 5-8 p.m., followed by a service Friday at 10 a.m. In lieu of flowers, his friends and family requested that donations be made to the newly formed Kurt Burmeister Memorial Foundation. He is survived by his wife Susan and daughters Gretchen and Lili.
Cieslak, 62, died Saturday after suffering a heart attack while refereeing a National Collegiate Lacrosse League (NCLL) game, according to ESPN analyst Mark Dixon. A longtime lacrosse and football official, Cieslak is survived by his wife Linda, daughters Jennifer, Jessica and Jacqueline and son Joe Jr., a college lacrosse official. Viewings will take place Thursday Kaczorowski Funeral Home in Baltimore, followed by a funeral Friday at St. Joseph Church, Fullerton.
“The lacrosse world lost a good one this past weekend,” Dixon, also an official, wrote Tuesday in a post for InsideLacrosse.com. “Joe was exactly what this sport needs more of — a hard-working, dedicated official who served the game. I had the opportunity to work with Joe on many occasions, particularly when I was first starting out. He taught me not to take the game or myself too seriously and to always respect everyone involved in the contest you were working, no matter what the level of play. Godspeed.”