Leading up to Burke Mountain Academy’s 50th anniversary in 2020, we’ve set out to connect with Burke students and staff from near and far.
We caught up with Bill Knowles who was Head Athletic Trainer, Head Strength and Conditioning Coach from 1989 to 2003. While at BMA, he met his wife Luisa who was the French teacher at BMA from 1993 to 1997. Together, they were Woods House dorm parents in 1995 and 1996.
Currently living in Philadelphia, Bill and Luisa are the proud parents of Kelsey (20 years old) who is attending American University in Washington DC, and Riley (17 years old) will be matriculating at Pitzer College in Claremont, CA.
Left photo: Bill and Luisa. Right photo: Bill, Kelsey, Riley, and Luisa.
After BMA we moved to Chittenden, VT (near Pico Mtn) in 2003, with our daughters Kelsey and Riley. I was working at the Vermont Orthopedic Clinic and started a program called iSPORT which I led from 2003 to 2013. During that time, I specialized in elite reconditioning following injury for professional, world-class, and elite level athletes from around the world. Luisa continued to teach French at the high school and middle school levels. Together as a family, we skied every weekend, discovered Nordic skiing and coached our girls through middle school and travel team soccer.
I now work for HPSports, another elite reconditioning program for professional athletes. Athletes fly in from around the world to stay for 1 to 4 weeks for intensive training or I travel to their teams. HPSports is owned by BMA alumnus Richie Graham ‘87 and I also work with Finn Gundersen (BMA headmaster from 1984-99) there. In parallel, I’m the Director of Athletic Development for Major League Soccer’s Philadelphia Union Academy and YSC Academy, both of which were started by Richie. Luisa is teaching French and is Associate Dean of Students at Germantown Friends School, one of the top 20 private schools in the USA. She attended Germantown Friends School from Kindergarten to grade 12 and always described it has an “academic specific BMA”. Now she has returned to the school as a member of the faculty, middle school soccer, and lacrosse coach, and has taken the spirit of BMA there.
My biggest passion right now is my work in the field of Reconditioning and Athletic Development. I lecture and do seminars to educate others on the experiences I’ve had with top athletes and helping to get them back to performance following injury. I’ve worked with over sixty professional teams and national governing bodies to share my experiences. I have always taken a progressive and alternative path, and I developed this at BMA.
When I’m not working, my other passions still include skiing as often as possible. I have not skied in PA yet and don’t see that happening… other than Nordic skiing on the golf course when it snows a little. Otherwise, I’m still mountain biking and Luisa and I get to Europe to hike in the summer. We miss Vermont a great deal and also try to visit often.
Since leaving BMA, my professional highlights have been working with many top talented athletes and teams. But there isn’t a lecture, seminar, or clinic that I don’t share my experience at BMA. It is and will always be my foundation.
Our personal highlights so far include raising a family in Vermont with all the goodness that came from that and now making sure we all are consistently exposed to the mountains for hiking and skiing.
My fondest BMA memories are airbands in the old library in Frazier. I remember having to hang my turntable (record player) on chains because the floor bounced too much from dancing! I also remember bungee jumping/swinging from the lower chairlift tower while on weekend duty; Launching Burkies down the lower soccer field hill with a bungee assisted slip and slide (Finn helped me with that one); GMR; The view of the Kingdom from the training hill in March; The Kingdom; and yes, Finn’s lunch announcements, Finn’s lunch announcements, and Finn’s lunch announcements!
We’ve stayed connected to BMA primarily through Luisa’s Facebook and News and Views which we enjoy. Our close friends from during that time have not changed and even though we don’t see them often when we do it’s like we never left. This is all thanks to the BMA culture.
In my eyes, what makes BMA special are the many cultural aspects that, if supported well, are truly unique to BMA. I feel it comes down to the Staff. I was fortunate to work with some very special people who were willing to give so much to the cause. If the staff are all in, then the students will follow.
You don’t need to spend a lifetime at BMA to have an experience of a lifetime. But not fully taking advantage of the opportunity compromises how much it will positively influence your future. I personally would not be where I am if Finn did not encourage and support my journey over fourteen years at BMA. We are forever grateful.