Orange County has earned a reputation as a hotbed for high school athletics and is equally blessed to have a number of outstanding prep sportswriters.
One of the best at his craft for the past 30-plus years has been Tim Burt of the Orange County Register/Irvine World News.
Burt, 61, has covered every high school boys’ and girls’ sport for decades and his work is highly regarded by the coaches, players, peers and the communities he serves.
“Tim Burt is the MVP of what we do,” says Steve Fryer, the OCR senior prep sportswriter. “He sets the standard on how all of us should cover a community. Every community newspaper needs a ‘Tim Burt;’ he is what makes us strong.”
Fryer notes that Burt is so established in Irvine that former LA Times sportswriter Tom Hamilton labeled Burt as the ‘Mayor of Irvine.’
“I give Tom credit for naming Tim as the mayor, I just kept perpetuating it,” Fryer says. “Let me put it this way, if Tim is in a gymnasium in Irvine and the President of the U.S. walks in, Tim is going to be offered a better seat.”
Northwood High softball coach Blair Ota and Woodbridge High volleyball coach Alan Ho echoes Fryer’s sentiments.
“Tim has always been fair, positive and shows great community interest,” says Ota. “I remember him writing AYSO articles. A highlight for our high school kids is to check the IWN on Thursday’s to see if their names or pictures are in the paper.”
“Seeing their names in the newspaper helps motivate our kids to work harder,” agrees Ho. “Tim’s a huge part of the Orange County/Irvine high school sports scene.”
Burt, a parishioner at St. John The Baptist Catholic Church in Costa Mesa since 1987, graduated from Long Beach State with a journalism degree and proudly credits his parents, Robert and Delores, and his faith for his success.
“My father wrote automotive and travel columns for the old Los Angeles Herald Examiner,” Burt says. “He had a great love of sports and loved to read the sports page. My mother taught me how to cope with challenges in life, how to deal fairly with people and to enjoy life.
“My Catholic faith has been very important to me over the years, helping me to strive to be the best person I can possibly be. I feel very blessed to have had so many good things happen to me over my career and in my life and to have had such a tremendous family and friends.”
Burt has covered numerous local athletes who have ascended to the professional ranks, including Austin Daye (Woodbridge High/Detroit Pistons) and Scott Brooks (UC Irvine/Philadelphia 76ers/Oklahoma City Thunder).
Burt has been handling the IWN sports editing responsibilities since 1984 and in recent years his duties have expanded to include serving as sports editor for OCR’s weeklies such as the Tustin News, Huntington Beach Wave, Fountain Valley View and The Current in Newport Beach/Costa Mesa.
The IWN has been honored twice as the best weekly sports section by the California Newspaper Publishers Association under Burt’s watch.
“It’s a team effort, including editors, photographers, copy editors, designers and writers, and that makes it all possible,” Burt emphasized.
University High’s baseball coach Chris Conlin has known Burt for nearly 40 years.
“In the late 1970’s I was the wrestling coach at (Cerritos) Gahr High School and Tim was a reporter for the Community Advocate,” says Conlin. “Even back then, Tim had the passion for recognizing young athletes for their hard work. He realized that most of these kids won’t play in college and this is the most athletic recognition they’ll ever get. He doesn’t want the limelight and he makes everyone else around him better.”
Last spring Burt received one of the highlights of his journalism career when the Pacific Coast League baseball coaches renamed the league championship trophy after him. Following Beckman’s triumph in the championship game, Patriots coach Kevin Lavalle unveiled and presented Burt, who was covering the game, with the ‘Tim Burt’ Trophy.
“Tim wasn’t aware that the trophy was renamed after him and he got choked up,” says Lavelle.
“I was totally surprised and very honored by it; nothing like that has ever happened to me,” Burt says.
Today, the trophy resides at Beckman High and each spring will be awarded annually to the PCL champions.
“Tim’s a fine human being and he’s genuine in what he does and in 40 or 50 years people will still be reminded of his legacy,” says Lavalle. “Without Tim Burt, Irvine sports wouldn’t get the coverage and recognition we get.”