By: Kelsey Houlihan 11'
It all started in fifth grade. Emily Burke was moving schools, and her parents urged her to start playing volleyball as a way to ingratiate herself to the new atmosphere. It evolved into more than just a path to new friendships however, and Emily excelled at the sport, continuing to play all throughout high school and college.
She transferred to Santa Clara after her sophomore year and continued to play the tough role as setter. But just as she had done in fifth grade, Burke used volleyball to help smooth the transition into a new school.
She instantly became an integral part of the Broncos' success, and as a senior this year she averaged nearly 10 assists per set, 2.4 digs per game and posted a .243 hitting average.
Burke brings more than simply statistics to the Bronco squad though, as one of the captains she also embodies leadership and maturity. "I have learned so much about leadership and patience, and I appreciate everything I have learned from my teammates. We are all individuals who come together as a team to work towards one goal."
This commitment to her teammates and competitive spirit has not gone unnoticed by head coach John Wallace. "Emily is an athlete that is easy to love. She plays and practices hard every day. She has put herself on the line physically, mentally and emotionally for this team. This year she has played through injury but she keeps going and plays hard, and as a head coach it's pretty special to have someone that loves to compete and play volleyball."
Besides the support of the coaching staff, Burke also attributes her seamless adjustment at Santa Clara to the other seniors on the team, Morgan Doherty and Krista Kelley. "I want to thank Morgan and Krista for taking me in and letting me be a part of their class two years ago. I know I will have these two girls in my life forever."
Bronco fans will get the chance to celebrate these three seniors with a pre-match ceremony this Saturday at 12:45 pm when the team takes on Portland in their last home match of the season.
Even after the three seniors walk across Buck Shaw's stage this coming June, Burke says she will maintain confidence in the squad, "These girls are a very talented group and I know they will turn around after this season and work hard to get back to competing for a WCC championship. I wish for them to look at the bigger picture and realize how fortunate we all are to be at Santa Clara."
On a more personal note, Burke hopes to leave her teammates with a sense of pride in being a Bronco volleyball player, and advises her teammates to, "live in the moment and take everything as it comes because these four years as members of this team will be the greatest memories we take with us in life."