BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) — Todd Burkey is about as far away from his home in Boardman as someone can get.
Formally part of the Youngstown State athletic staff, Burkey is in St. Petersburg, Russia as of Monday night. He’s the strength and conditioning coach for the Chinese Women’s Olympic Ice Hockey team.
He got the job through a former Chinese student who graduated from YSU.
“But then he mentioned the word Olympics. There’s not too many people I know who’ve been to the Olympics. So that was kind of a selling point for me,” Burkey said.
That — and the pay. “It’s been lucrative,” Burkey said.
When he first arrived in China in June, he quarantined for 28 days.
“They gave you a room, you shut the door and you didn’t leave. So that was challenging,” Burkey said.
Then he went to work training the women. Though there’s a language barrier, he’s learned some Chinese and they’ve learned some English.
“At the end of the day, we’re still the same athletes we train. So that wasn’t hard for me,” Burkey said.
Burkey said he can do anything there he can here. He’s posted touristy pictures from Sochi and Red Square.
“I wouldn’t call it life-changing, more kind of life-affirming. As long as you’re good to people, people are going to be good to you and these people I’ve been around have been so gracious to me,” Burkey said.
He said the only negatives are being away from his wife and two daughters and living out of a hotel room. What he’s waiting for now is February.
“I’m going to walk in the opening ceremonies at the Olympic Games. That’s why I came here. That’s pretty cool,” Burkey said.
More than once, Burkey said it was cold and dark in Russia. The sunrise right now in Russia is at 9 a.m. and it’s dark by 4 p.m.
He also said he’s coming home after the Olympics.