John Burroughs’ Athletic Director Peter Tasker estimates during the school year, he puts in a 75-80 hour work week.
By any measure, JBS is getting their money’s worth and more.
Tasker brings many talents to the table at this high-performing private school in Ladue.
His career path has had more zigs and zags than star running back Ezekiel Elliott, sailing for yet another opponent’s goal line.
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Tasker has a busy day each day on campus. He teaches math and an introductory 9th grade Spanish class. In addition to that, he coaches middle school lacrosse and is athletic director the rest of the week.
Why athletics? “Athletics is a classroom without walls. This is where we teach students lessons of life, whether it be dealing with failure, adversity, forming bonds and creating teamwork. Athletics is the once area that touches all other aspects of school, that being academics, alumni, faculty, parents, everybody,” said Tasker.
He takes this Spanish thing seriously. He just returned from an immersion training session, living for two weeks with a family in Panama.
He arrived on campus in 2004. That was Andy Abbott (present Head of School’s first year). He was hired by retired Head of School Keith Shahan.
“It was the end of the summer and Burroughs was desperate for a teacher. They needed a teacher and a coach. I was a warm body,” he said modestly.
Not so. Tasker brought enormous talents and skills to add to the Burroughs program.
A 1982 graduate of Colorado College, Tasker has a resume a mile long. He’s taught in private schools, a public school (I taught one month in an an inner city London School); he was a Peace Corps volunteer in Western Samoa then shifted gears and launched a highly successful business career. That was thanks in part to earning a masters degree in economics from the University of Pennsylvania.
He married his wife Holly (University City graduate) and he launched an international business career selling toys. He rose to International Sales Director of a St. Louis based toy manufacturer. A native of Chicago’s North Shore (1979 graduate of Lake Forest High School), the 51-year-old worked for Trend Masters Corporate Sales here. He hop scotched the globe, selling toys in Latin America and Europe.
He and his wife relocated to Brussels, Belgium. “We were only supposed to be there a short while, we stayed three years. A business career can be very seductive,” he said. They had many chances to tour Europe during free moments.
But education beckoned him back to the classroom. He was always a participant and coach, involved in ice hockey, lacrosse and coached rugby in Samoa.
The Taskers have planted roots in St. Louis. Beckett is a nine year old, going into the 4th grade at Ladue’s Reed School. Rosalie, 5, is enrolled in an international language studies school in Olivette. A perk includes having a house on the school grounds.
He looks up to, not down at fellow coaches. “Take Andy Kay, lacrosse coach at Mary Institute Country Day. He is so charasmatic, the kids love playing for him.” Tasker can’t say enough about having NFL quarterback Gus Frerotte as JBS’ football coach.
Tasker, as AD had some big shoes to fill. The department was run many years by legendary coaches Skippy Keefer and Jim Lemen and until recently, retired football coach Todd Small.
Tasker had a decision to make when he came to Burroughs. With his business acumen, he could have developed an economics program, or launched the sport of lacrosse. “I tend to migrate to things that interest me the most.” Hence, lacrosse won out over macro and micro economics.
John Burroughs school officials couldn’t be happier with the choice.