MADISON - After her championship effort at the Cardinal Conference meet at Winfield, throwing 124-08 to win in girls' discus and 28-03 to win girls' shot put, Scott High School's Brooke Burns was already thinking about the next step. The senior, a multi-sport athlete, is a student who understands the value of hard work. After running through her practice reps in discus, she spoke with the Coal Valley News about her journey to where she is today.
"When I was in sixth grade, I was on the cross-country team, and then in seventh grade, [Madison Middle] got a track team. I figured, 'I'm already on the cross-country team; I might as well do track.'" Burns went from being a 1600-meter runner to realizing her ability in discus after being signed up for the event - and winning it - at her first track meet. "It all went from there," she said.
Burns cited her father, Coach Brandon Burns, as a great inspiration. Having coached her all her life, she is thankful that he has encouraged her to compete and figure out how to improve her throws. Her father has also acted as her basketball coach, being there with her and her teammates in multiple sports. Burns has also participated in softball and soccer.
Playing more than one sport has made Burns realize how important athletics is in her life, in both good times and difficult times.
"I didn't realize how important athletics was to me until I hurt my back when I was a sophomore and I wasn't sure if I was ever going to get to do sports again....It just made me realize how much I love doing it."
Burns cracked a vertebra throwing shot put at regionals the year after her first state championship as a freshman. "I realized I had been taking sports and my body for granted."
She wore a brace for six weeks, and had it removed around the time she had taken a school trip to Washington. There, Burns climbed Mount Baker while wearing the brace, a challenging feat. From there, she focused on building core strength and getting herself back into competing form. Breaking her back, in a way, led to her becoming stronger and healthier.
The experience in Washington gave her a second realization as well. "Since that trip, I decided I was going to study geology, because I loved learning about how the mountain had formed. After college, and after I get my graduate degree, I want to try to train and become a professional mountaineer, because I loved that trip so much."
Burns is committed to Marshall University, where she plans to continue competing.
When asked if her experiences in athletics has gone hand-in-hand with her academics, Burns immediately and enthusiastically answered, "Yes." Burns is excited to continue track and field as a member of the Thundering Herd, as she could not imagine four years without it. "I want to really cherish it and have a lot of fun with it," she said.
Burns graduates with a 4.7 GPA.
Brandon Burns says that Brooke and her sister Anna have supported one another on the track team, and he feels they have grown closer in practice and competition. Burns is proud of Brooke's commitment to sports, finding it difficult to believe her high school career is coming to a close. Seeing her through the frightening injury to her summit in the Cascades and getting back out in competition was nothing short of remarkable to him. Her mentality, extensive weight training and attention to detail have made her a dominant force in the state.
Brooke Burns thanks the support of many coaches, including her father (Brandon), mother (Beth), Shann Elkins, Brent Kirk, Bobby Miller, Kevin Murray, and A.B. Brown.