Ben Burdett likes to think that he’s a product of all the people important to him in his life. He knows he hasn’t lacked for role models or inspiration.
But, at the end of the day, it’s only to himself that’s accountable.
So, with that knowledge as his foundation, he chooses equanimity over chaos, measured over irascible, and kind over rude.
It works best for him. And it’s not bad for those who spend time with him.
His golf coach, Joe Mills, describes Burdett as “very coachable; just a fine young man.” His lacrosse coach, Griffin Kiritsy, calls him “driven,” a student-athlete who “doesn’t need a lot of external motivation.”
Burdett, who tends not to over-think things, sees it as all very simple: “I was brought up well,” the 18-year-old Keene High graduate said. “I come from a Christian family, where I’ve been surrounded by a social environment where it was always about being nice and personable, and respectful to others.”
However one attributes it, the good-sport quality of Burdett is easy to spot.
Don’t be fooled, though. Burdett is no less a fierce competitor than his closest rival.
“He’s one of the most competitive people I know,” Kiritsy said. “But he’s also always the gentleman. Our team, the other team … it’s always ‘yes sir, no sir.’ He knows how to fire up teammates, the right way. He leads by example.”
Burdett doesn’t mind the label of sportsmanship award winner. He’s gotten used to it; he’s won them before. In this case, he said, it validates the efforts he’s taken to be a good athlete and a good person at the same time.
He starred for the Keene High golf team, placing third overall in the individual portion of the Division I state tournament in the fall, and played goalie this spring for the lacrosse team.
In the fall, he will enroll at Coastal Carolina University to study golf course management, as he continues to pursue one of his fist loves. After graduation earlier this month, he and a few good friends traveled to Iceland, to explore and unwind.
He called it the trip of a lifetime, describing the drive from the capital city of Reykjavik to the trailhead of the famous Laugavegur Trail as so captivating that it was “like being on another planet.”
His high school days over, there is some time for reflection. He notes that growing up with three older sisters was his great fortune. “They helped teach me to keep my mouth shut on the field,” he said.
He said his parents, Gregg and Jane, define him in many ways.
He said he has a handful of professional athletes that he admires and takes cues from. But, he preferred to note local athletes — Chelso Barrett, C.J. Konkowski and Albie Powers, local golfers all — that he said he would do just as well to emulate, and strives to.
Powers, a former Keene High standout who went on to become a youth pastor, is as good a role model as “I think you could find,” Burdett said. “He’s an amazing golfer, and a better person. He’s the person I think I try to mold myself after the most.”
Burdett has a mantra: “Kick butt on the field; help out on the field.”
He believes it’s possible to have it both ways. Others would see it only as a contradiction.
“Whether it’s helping the other guy up, or in lacrosse when someone makes a great shot that you don’t stop, letting them know it was a nice shot. Tempers can get hot, but it’s important to show respect to. We’re all high-schoolers.”
Three years ago, when the Blackbirds’ All-State goalie left for prep school, Burdett stepped up to fill the role. He’d never played goalie before. As a senior this past season, he was considered one of the better goalies in the division.
“The way he built himself up through his athletic career helped him prepare to do that,” Kiritsy said. “Golf’s a mental game, so is playing goalie. There’s nowhere to hide; it’s you against the other person or team. Not a lot of kids can accept and thrive in that environment, but he can.”
And, Kiritsy, added, “still be the person first in the handshake line (even though that’s tradition for a goalie in lacrosse). The way he conducts himself is an example-setting thing. It’s who he is.”
Burdett helped lead the lacrosse team to playoff wins each of the past two seasons. He was part of a Keene golf team in the fall that won the NHIAA Sportsmanship Award.
Burdett said he enjoys being with friends, meeting new people, and has interest in graphic design.
Outside of school, he volunteers with Big Brothers Big Sisters of NH and has served as an instructor for the First Tee golf program. While at Keene High, he was active in Future Business Leaders of America, the NHIAA’s Life of an Athlete initiative, and the Student Athlete Leadership Council.
He’s always been “cognizant that he was representing both his school and his family,” his father, Gregg said. “He has received praise from opposing coaches and players throughout his career and across each season.”