July 31st, 2013

Burry making AHS proud at American University

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Conor Revell

Managing Editor

Burry making AHS proud at American University
Stephanie Burry plays for American University / photo submitted by Donna Burry

Stephanie Burry knew she wanted to travel away from home for college, but she didn’t anticipate how much she would like the experience she has had at American University in Washington, D.C. Nor did she expect to have the leadership roles that she will tackle during her final collegiate days.

Now the 2010 Assumption High School graduate — a goalkeeper who saved the potential game-winning flick for the Rockets’ field hockey team in the 2009 state championship game — is preparing for her senior year at American. And she has a huge task ahead of her.

Burry is one of only 32 NCAA athletes chosen to serve on the NCAA Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. She will represent the Patriot Conference on the SAAC, which has the daunting task of representing the 342 NCAA Division I schools.

Her predecessor, Douglass Prusoff, a student at Lafayette, suggested that Burry look into applying, so she did. 

“I filled out the application, but I really didn’t know what I was getting into,” she said. “I wasn’t familiar with the National SAAC before I applied. My relationship and past experience with SAAC kind of led me into this broader experience.”

Each July, November and January, the 32 representatives will meet at the NCAA’s headquarters in Indianapolis and tackle any issues the NCAA or any student-athlete has brought up at their school or within their conference SAAC (each league as an SAAC).

“We’re the voice of the student-athletes,” Burry said. “It’s a way for open communication between the NCAA, the student-athletes and anybody who may have a role in effecting the student-athlete experience. This allows them to tell us what’s going on and that allows us to make sure that our voices are heard during the decision-making process.”

Burry recently got her first taste of the SAAC.

“Last week was the first time that I have attended a meeting,” she said. “We went over the NCAA proposals for enforcement, legal pieces that they have been working on and any eligibility issues that may come up. There are a lot of issues that a lot of student-athletes go through that may haven’t pertained to me or any teams in my conference, but we can still voice our opinion on that issue. There are a lot of opportunities for me to learn about issues that I have never heard of.”

While she didn’t say much, she came away with a lot of ideas that she can bring back to American, networked and met other student-athletes from around the country.

“I learned a lot at the meeting,” Burry said. “It was really interesting to sit in on the meeting. But I will say that the biggest thing is that I’ve met a ton of great people since joining. The ones that have been there before have a really great relationship. I’m really privileged to be a part of that.

“We’ve all been in constant communication since we left that meeting. It’s really inspiring to hear what they’ve done and want to do with their schools and conference. But the thing I learned most was that I’ve got a lot to learn and need to learn a lot more so that I can help my school and conference.”

Assumption taught Burry that it isn’t always about the classroom or the result on the court. There’s a community out there that need their help and can help them when they need it. And since her meeting with the SAAC, Burry already has some ideas.  

“I really want American to expand its voice,” she said. “I’d like to see our athletic community provide a lot more community service at AU. We need to get more involved with the community. I think seeing that other (conference) SAACs being more useful gives me the inspiration that we aren’t just here to keep in touch with the NCAA but that we can talk to them and use them for our benefit so that our voice can be heard.”

While in Indianapolis, Burry got to participate in a community service activity. The SAAC works with Samaritan’s Feet and their goal is to give out 10 million shoes in 10 years. So the SAAC and any NCAA employees were given the opportunity to wear jeans last Friday if they brought in $5. Burry and her colleagues walked around collecting the money.

“We were able to raise $1,000 in half a day,” she said. “It shows us how big of a privilege it’s to be a student-athlete. It’s our duty to give back to the community that’s supporting us or even if it’s the NCAA that supports us through our endeavors. They come to work every day so that we can do what we love to do every day.”

But it all comes back to field hockey. Burry wouldn’t be where she is today without field hockey.

She helped Assumption win the 2009 state title, and that success continued at American. Even though she didn’t start, she was on the American team that advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 as a freshman and during her sophomore season, the Eagles stunned Princeton 2-0 (Princeton went on to win the NCAA championship in 2012).

Burry has one last chance to win a second Patriot League championship and play in the NCAA Tournament for the second time.

“We’re really looking at going to the Patriot League championship this year,” she said. “I think our goal would be to make the NCAA Tournament and advance to the Sweet 16, Elite Eight or even better. That’d be a dream come true. But first and foremost, we have to take care of step one. That’s taking care of our games during the season. If we do that and win the Patriot League, then anything is possible.”

But regardless of what happens, she has no regrets.

“Playing at American has been an incredible experience,” she said.  “I’ve been blessed with a great coaching staff. They’ve treated us like they’re our mothers or fathers. They are willing to listen to us go on rants about anything. They’ve been a great support network. I looked at going away for college and I’m so blessed to be here. If I had to do it all over again, I would.”


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