This spring, you can catch Corbin Burke darting towards the lacrosse goal for Deering High School. Next fall, he’s juking out defenders on the gridiron, and darting back door for a layup in the winter.
But the 14-year-old freshman is best known for cuts involving clippers, razors and scissors, as a barber for many of his peers. In a time where so many aim to specialize in one sport, art or activity, Burke is a throwback with an entrepreneurial spirit, one of the young student-athletes who still gets involved in a variety of activities.
“It keeps you busy and away from things that might not be good for you,” Burke said. “Activities are a good environment and sports keep you fit.”
A three-sport varsity athlete as a freshman, Burke is also part of the school’s Black Student Union. He posts his barber work on the Instagram account, @cb_cutzz. Cutting hair is a hobby for now. Burke fits in about 10 per week at various locations, including right at Deering. He plans on going for an official license if he ultimately decides it’s what he wants to do for a career. The process requires a 1,500-hour training program and a heavy tuition cost. Plus, a licensed Maine barber must be at least 16 years old to finish barbering school.
Burke first took interest in cutting hair as a seventh grader, watching videos on social media and picturing himself doing the same thing. He started out by cutting his younger brother’s hair. Last year, he spent $100 on a more professional set of clippers, and soon after, became the talk of his peers.
Burke enjoys learning about different hair styles and textures and how best to cut them.
“Everybody’s different with unique hair,” he said.
He’ll take on any client. You just have to ask. On a recent afternoon I watched Burke cut Deering educational technician (and my former classmate) Jean-Claude Butera’s hair. A half-dozen other students watched, too, including Butera’s younger brother, Michel, a freshman, friend, and hair client of Burke’s. It’s appointment viewing at DHS.
“He’s fire,” Michel Butera said. “Don’t sleep on CB.”
According to Deering athletic/co-curricular director Michael Daly, Burke is one example of a growing pattern of multi-activity students. Daly’s seen many more students playing multiple sports, and this spring, worked with eight students who wanted to play two sports this season. It reminds him of the days of old.
“There’s a change going on with our students where it feels like we’re turning back to kids who love sports and want to compete,” Daly said.
For Burke, getting involved in a bevy of activities also benefits his academic performance. School seems to go by faster during sports seasons thanks to a regimented schedule.
Here’s to Corbin Burke, and the new wave of youngsters getting involved with school sports, activities and learning through myriad ways.
Greg Levinsky is a Portland native and follower of local sports. He is an alumnus of Deering High School and Boston University whose work has appeared in The Boston Globe, Detroit Free Press, and several Maine newspapers. He can be reached at [email protected].