Burke Mountain Academy Community Gathers for Ronnie Berlack Center Groundbreaking


RBC Groundbreaking with (L to R -Jon Biele, Don Graham, Ken Graham, Sandy Williams, Willy Booker, Steve Berlack, Jack Dator, Darrell Gray, JB Clancy, Dana Young, Mary Rolfs, Jory Macomber, Tomas Karlsson, Rob Wilson, Erica Wilson, Tom Rolfs


$2.8M sophisticated indoor training facility to open in fall of 2016

 East Burke, VT (May 21, 2016) – Burke Mountain Academy (BMA) is a step closer to seeing its student-athletes train inside the Ronnie Berlack Center (RBC) following the May 21 official groundbreaking ceremony. Attended by more than 250 enthusiastic BMA students, staff, parents, alumni and donors, the groundbreaking event celebrated the imminent construction of the academy’s new $2.8M state-of-the-art physical training facility for its alpine and Nordic student-athletes.

Set to open in late fall of 2016, the new facility will add 15,000 square feet of training and functional space to the campus, including 6,100 square feet of turf field and 4,700 square feet of training area with rubberized flooring and sophisticated training equipment.

Conveniently located on the academy’s campus next to the dining hall and overlooking the soccer field, the RBC will be home to high-performance programming in strength and conditioning, sports psychology, sports medicine, nutrition, athletic movement, injury rehabilitation, coaching development, wellness, as well as research in and dissemination of the latest work in sport science. Open year-round, the facility will also be accessible to local partner programs for summertime training programs.

The building will proudly bear Ronnie Berlack’s name in memory of his lasting legacy as an accomplished BMA athlete. Ronnie graduated from the academy in 2012 and lost his life in an avalanche in Soelden, Austria on January 5, 2015 during a camp with the U.S. Ski Team development squad.

“I’m beyond ecstatic today,” said Steve Berlack, father of Ronnie Berlack, men’s FIS coach at BMA and lead on the project’s silent fund development efforts. “Thanks to everyone’s incredible contributions to date, this project is coming to life. I know Ronnie would be extremely proud of the meaningful impact this project will have on the future generations of Burkies.”

In addition to its primary athletic development functions, the building’s open floor plan will allow for community events including spontaneous sports, competitive play and larger organized events such as graduation. The enhanced space will also create opportunities for BMA
to host other athletic and educational opportunities including summer dryland camps, regional training and testing projects, coaches’ clinics, and revenue-generating seminars.

“It’s terrific to see the whole community rally behind this amazing project,” says Jory Macomber ’80, former Vice President of Athlete Career and Education at USSA and incoming head of school at BMA. “As emphasis on sport specialization continues to increase, it’s essential for BMA to remain ahead of the curve and to reassert its leadership in the area of adolescent athletic preparation for alpine and Nordic ski racing. By investing in this world-class infrastructure and developing new programs, BMA will be in a strong position to empower its student-athletes to reach their fullest potential while also producing thought leadership that will benefit the entire sports system.”

Designed by alumnus JB Clancy ‘88 of Albert, Righter & Tittmann Architects, Inc., the building will be consistent with the current aesthetic of the campus, with the look of a classic Vermont red barn with oversized, garage-style doors to maximize the view of Willoughby Gap and expanded access to the outdoors. Over the coming months, the building’s construction will leverage local trades and contractors.

All funds required for the building’s conception and construction were amassed as part of a nine-month silent fundraising campaign.

“After months of planning, it’s very gratifying to see such a significant contingent of current students, parents, alumni and donors unite to celebrate the launch of this milestone project for the BMA community,” said Willy Booker ’96, chairman of BMA’s board of trustees. “This project would not have been possible without the many donors who believed in the importance of equipping our community with a best-in-class training infrastructure. Inspired by Ronnie’s legacy and fueled by a desire to make BMA an even more amazing place, these donors are helping to shape the skiers of the future.”

A new fundraising campaign will be underway soon to raise an additional $3M for the creation of an endowment fund. These funds will play an essential role in supporting high-performance programs to leverage the RBC’s infrastructure in the future. More information about this opportunity will be announced soon.

For more information about the RBC, visit:   http://burkemtnacademy.org/skiing/ronnie-berlack-center/

 The RBC’s groundbreaking ceremony was held in conjunction with the farewell party for Kirk Dwyer, the academy’s headmaster for the past 16 years.

 Ronnie Berlack Center Fast Facts 

  • Indoor athletic turf field: 6,100 sf
  • Circuit/weight area: 4,700 sf
  • Outdoor turf field: 3,750 sf
  • Classroom
  • ATC
  • 2 offices
  • Mezzanine: 800 sf
  • Total gross building area:  approximately 15,000 sf
  • Groundbreaking: May 2016
  • Projected opening: Fall 2016
  • Project building design and construction costs: $2.8 M (includes 3 years of operational expense coverage)
  • Building designer: JB Clancy (BMA ’88) of Albert, Righter & Tittmann Architects, Inc.



Jodi Flanagan

Burke Mountain Academy

Director of Development and Communications

P: 802.626.5607 ext. *1506

E: jflanagan@burkemtnacademy.org