Ian Burgoyne has been an exemplary student and held a prominent leadership position during his time at the Naval Academy.
Those factors were not the reason why teammates elected Burgoyne to wear the No. 40 in honor of former Navy lacrosse player Brendan Looney.
"When I was thinking about all the guys who were eligible, it came down to which kid on the team did I know was going to have my back no matter what?" Navy senior Sam Kopf said. "Who was the guy that I would always call when I needed something and he would be there for me?"
Burgoyne has been a steady, reliable and trusted teammate throughout his four-year career, which is why he received perhaps the highest honor accorded a Navy lacrosse player. The senior midfielder is proud to continue the tradition that started in 2011.
"I was really humbled by it. I think of the seniors who have worn the jersey since I've been here and they were all phenomenal leaders," Burgoyne said. "It was kind of a wave of emotions -- excitement, appreciation and even a little nervousness."
This is the ninth consecutive season the Navy men's lacrosse program has honored Lieutenant Brendan Looney, who was killed in Afghanistan on Sept. 21, 2010. Looney was an unheralded long stick defensive midfielder for the Midshipmen from 2002 through 2004.
Looney, a Silver Spring native and DeMatha Catholic graduate, was deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan a total of four times a special warfare officer. He was killed in action when a helicopter carrying the Navy SEAL team he commanded crashed in a mountainous region.
Every year since, Navy lacrosse players have voted on which member of the team best represented what Looney stood for as a man, warrior and teammate. To Kopf, a short stick defensive midfielder, Burgoyne was "a really obvious choice."
"Ian always sets the standard as far as work ethic, commitment and leadership. You know he's going to crush conditioning and give every ounce of energy he has during practice," Kopf said.
"Ian is a humble leader who is willing to do the small things that others might not think about, like being there if someone needs help with homework. There is no one in the locker room who will speak ill of Ian because he's respected by all."
Burgoyne blushed when informed of those comments and mentioned that he actually voted for Kopf, who has selflessly served on the scout team his entire career without complaint.
"We have a number of seniors that could have fulfilled the honor of wearing No. 40, and it was a close vote," Navy head coach Rick Sowell said. "That being said, I was not at all surprised that Ian was selected. From day one, the way Ian carried himself and went about his business, he was one those players that you could easily envision someday wearing the No. 40 jersey."
Sowell gave Burgoyne some valuable advice after the vote was announced, telling the Connecticut native to "just be yourself, be the same person that earned that honor."
"There is definitely a lot of pressure that comes with this responsibility. I'll admit it provided more motivation to work harder during Christmas break and be ready to get after it when preseason practice started," Burgoyne said. "At the same time, I have to remember that there will only be one Brendan Looney. Hopefully, I can just emulate some of the traits he espoused and do my part to add to that legacy."
Burgoyne was well-versed in the legacy of Brendan Looney before he was selected to wear the No. 40. The Darien High graduate read the book "Brothers Forever," which chronicled the bond between Looney and former Navy wrestler Travis Manion -- a Marine Corps officer killed in Iraq in 2007.
"I've tried to speak to as many people who have worn the No. 40 in the past and get their perspective on what it means," Burgoyne said. "In fact, I just spoke on the phone to Matt Morrison and he told me it's about bringing a positive attitude and contagious energy."
Sowell has been impressed with the approach Burgoyne has taken since being placed in the unique role, which is completely different from serving as team captain. That title is held by standout senior midfielders Greyson Torain and Ryan Wade.
"Ian has a great ability to communicate and say the right thing at the right time. He's not afraid to hold his teammates accountable when necessary. However, he's also the first one to praise a teammate for making the smallest play like getting a ground ball or making a good pass," Sowell said. "I think Ian is representing the jersey in a way that would make Brendan Looney proud. He's just a very supportive teammate in every respect."
Burgoyne served on the scout team as a freshman before earning a spot on the second offensive midfield as a sophomore. The 6-foot-3, 186-pounder has remained a member of that unit the last three seasons, playing mostly a supporting role while scoring just six goals.
"Ian is a very intelligent individual and has a high lacrosse IQ as well," said Sowell, noting that classroom smarts don't always translate to the athletic field. "Ian understands the game and what we're trying to do as far as offensive concepts. He's a leader on the field and helps get us into the right play. I would say his success is predicated on the mental side of the game."
Burgoyne boasts a 3.86 cumulative grade point average as an applied mathematics major. He has earned a 4.0 in three of seven semesters at the academy and has been named to the Superintendent's List six times, the Commandant's List on seven occasions. He ranks 126th out of 1,082 midshipmen in the senior class in Academic Order of Merit and 51st in Military Order of Merit.
Lt. Col. Ray Coleman, officer representative for Navy men's lacrosse, felt strongly that Burgoyne was an ideal candidate for a leadership position within the Brigade of Midshipmen and the player's company commander agreed.
"They pushed me to take on a bigger leadership role because they thought I had a unique platform in terms of academics and athletics -- as well as relationships -- to be a peer leader," Burgoyne said.
After interviewing with the Deputy Commandant of Midshipmen and all six battalion officers, Burgoyne was appointed Brigade Commander for the fall semester. He brought many of the team-building skills developed as a varsity lacrosse player to the highest ranking position within the Brigade of Midshipmen.
"I tried to make the brigade staff more like a team where everyone has an equal say," Burgoyne said. "I learned a lot in that position because I had an opportunity to interact with some unbelievable mentors. I gained so many insights into organizational leadership and I've tried to bring some of those to this jersey number and this team." ___
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