Student Nomination Story

Prior to attending a single day of high school, I had to go to my cross country practice which was led by Coach Mulrooney. He started by preaching, “Those who put in the work and remain dedicated will find success.” Shortly after, my teammates and I ran for 28 minutes (which felt like 28 hours) and I knew that more dreadful days were just over the horizon. I was in trouble. As the training days passed, I experienced side cramps, blister-filled feet, and lungs that burned hotter than the concrete we ran on. As an inexperienced runner, these pains worried me, but he told me, “That’s what makes you bad ass tough.” My spirits rose as my 5K times fell. I was on the verge of being a varsity athlete my freshman year. Sadly, this was all simply a reminder that more dreadful days were just over the horizon. My sophomore year was fueled by Coach Mulrooney’s optimism, enthusiasm, and encouragement. When I was struggling, he paused and listened. He looked for the positives. He reassured me by saying my favorite quote, “You are capable.” Soon enough, I didn’t just believe I was capable, I knew I was capable. I became a second team all-conference runner that season. I was on cloud nine–I started to believe that more dreadful days were not just over the horizon. How wrong can one’s beliefs be? I did not race my junior year. I underwent two surgeries on my legs because I had exertional compartment syndrome. I felt as though I had gotten spiked. Alas, the dreadful days were no longer over the horizon. They were here. My spirits were crushed. As a loving leader, Coach Mulrooney boosted me back to my feet. He checked in with me after my surgeries and asked how I was feeling. He reminded me how important I was to the team, and how they had missed my presence. Once I had healed, he guided me through the rehab and the struggles that accompanied this process. As I navigated down a path with an unknown end, he told me: “Keep the faith.” I did just that. I was announced as one of the two captains my senior year. As I progressed in my training, Coach Mulrooney knew when to push me to my physical limits. He inspired me every practice by telling me stories about runners who made a comeback after being injured. He understood my discomfort, yet he remained persistent. Although the horizon had brought dreadful days, it also brought my most memorable days. I ended up running at state (which had been a goal of mine since freshman year) which was in large part due to Coach Mulrooney. He kept me focused and fearless. Not only did he help me reach my goal, but he also taught me a valuable lesson: as long as I put in the work and remain dedicated, I will find success.

Daniel Burant

To see more exceptional teacher nominees, visit The Honor Roll.