Nathan Burch is a hero to many in the Colorado hockey community. He’s a hero to the players he coaches: the Midget Minor AA team of 15 and 16 year olds from the Boulder Hockey Club and the Under 12 tournament team.
And he’s a hero to the family of Butch Mousseau. Butch was a local and NCAA hockey referee from Erie. He died in March of last year after a fall on the ice shortly before a college game. He was 48.
“I met Butch when I played adult league at the Promenade,” Nate remembered. He had always refed our games. He was not only a friend of mine, but he got me through some things to help me to where I am today. He was ray of sunshine. You gravitated toward the guy. You couldn’t help but think he was your best friend.”
Nate stepped up after Butch’s death, helping to start a Go Fund Me campaign with Kevin Kelly for The Mousseau family: wife Macaire, and children Sam, Abbie and Olivia. He put together a memorial game that drew over 600 people and raised close to $10,000.
“Everything at that event was donated, the programs, the concessions. The people who helped all volunteered. Even the Zamboni driver donated his time.”
Nate said, “After we got done, everybody spent about 2 hours in the locker room telling Butch stories.
Everybody on both teams wore Butch’s number 12. The refs had arm badges with number 12.”
Burch said a golf tournament will be held each year with the money raised going to scholarships for the Mousseau children.
Nate hopes to stage an annual 3 on 3 tournament to continue to help the Mousseau family and to honor Butch.
“If you hung out with Butch you know that’s how he wanted it. For the game to be at its purest. For the guys who are in it to have a true respect for the game. We would play these pickup games. Butch and few of us would go out and play 3 on 3. Now taking it forward, the goal of a 3 on 3 tournament is a dream. I’d love to get to that.”
Of Burch, The Dawg Father, Martin Richardson (l) says, “There were many unsung heroes that stepped up to help the Mousseaus in this difficult time, but none more than Nate.”
Nate is a shift manager at Sport Stable, a 170,000 square foot palace in Superior that features indoor soccer and lacrosse fields, batting cages, a basketball court and 2 NHL size rinks, one with seating for 600.
There are 22 locker rooms. One is very special. “As a group we wanted to recognize Butch in the adult league community. I tried to make sure when we planned out all the locker rooms and how the numbering system worked that the referee locker room landed on number 12. David Bach designed that logo that is on the door.”
Butch was at his best when Nate was at his worst. “A game was getting hot and heavy and I swung around and slashed a guy hard. I’ll never forget it. Butch just grabbed me by the back of the pants and said, ‘Time for you to go, Nate.’ He was such a big guy, 6 foot 5. And calming. Just saying it was time to go home. And I was like, you’re right, buddy. He checked on me after to make sure I was okay.”
At Sport Stable, “So many of the men’s league teams represent Butch in some way or another. They have a patch on their jersey, 90% have a sticker on their helmet.”
Butch is known even to those who never met him. “Parents have told their kids the story of who Butch was, what kind of man he was and what kind of ambassador to the sport he was. You see a lot a kids with the number 12 on their helmets. Butch refereed maybe one youth game a year. But he touched everyone so much and he’s worked with so many guys. The relationship he built with all these adult league hockey guys, it’s so great that they were able to pass that on to their kids.”
Even Nate’s bar at home gets an assist from Butch. Clear acrylic was poured over hockey pucks to create the unique surface.
Butch came up with over 150 pucks to make it happen.
Of all the work he has done to help the Mousseau family, Nate says, “It’s the least I could have done. I hope to do more.”
Nate played hockey at Metro State where he graduated with degrees in Sports Operations and Marketing. He is an active player in men’s leagues and has participated in the Dawg Bowl. And you bet…he’s got a #12 sticker on his helmet.