Ridin' With Cierra: Dunking With Duncan

June 6, 2014


Tennessee rising senior basketball player Cierra Burdick is enjoying a very busy summer. The 6-foot-2 senior from Charlotte, North Carolina (Butler H.S.) has been to Colorado Springs twice, winning a qualifying tournament to help her team become USA Basketball's top 3x3 women's team and preparing to represent her country for this weekend's FIBA World Championship tournament in Russia.

She also moved to New York City for the summer to serve as an intern at ABC's Good Morning America. She clocked in for her first day at GMA last week and will return to duty there when she returns from Moscow.

We'll be "Ridin' With Cierra" this summer, as she shares her experiences with USA Basketball and ABC's long-running morning show. We hope you'll join her on the trip and enjoy her second installment.

Dunking With Duncan

    We eat. We sleep. We hoop. For every player that has ever gone to the Olympic Training Center (OTC) for USA Basketball training camp or trials, I think we can all agree that our schedules are pretty predictable.

    Once we touch down in Colorado Springs, we marvel at the beautiful, snowcapped mountains, lug our 50-pound suitcases up the athlete dorm staircase, and head straight to the all you can eat OTC cafeteria. Call me fat, but the cafeteria is definitely one of the things I look forward to during my trips to the "Springs."

    The chefs do a great job of preparing a variety of delicious, healthy meals that I can partake in whenever I want, as many times as I would like. I mean it's practically Heaven! Amongst the basketball community, the infamous grilled cheeses, the soft serve ice cream, and the tall glasses of chocolate milk are always crowd (not so healthy) favorites. During the three days we were at the OTC, my teammates Jewell (Loyd) and Tiff (Mitchell) had a combined 11 grilled cheeses. That should give you an idea of how good they really are.

    Outside of the cafeteria, you can either catch us in the gym, training or practicing our trick shots and alley-oops, or sleeping. My most recent experience in the "Springs" was pretty cool, because the 18U 3x3 USA National tournament was going on at the same time we were training, so in between practices we were able to check out some of the young talent.

    If I had to guess, I would say about eight hours of our days were spent in the gym, four hours of the day were spent in the cafeteria, nine hours were spent in the dorm devoted to power naps and night time snoozes, and the remaining time of the day was dedicated to our random explorations and adventures.

    In my previous years playing with USA Basketball, we rarely left the OTC campus. It was strictly business, no doubt about it. However, the 3x3 environment is a lot more laid back than the 5 on 5 setting. We take care of business on the court, but then we get to get off campus, relax, and enjoy the "Springs" more in its entirety.

    One of the best outings during this trip was our team dinner. We had the women's and men's teams, our coach, and support staff all in attendance. Awesome thing about it was, for most of the dinner I was talking to Arne Duncan, the U.S. Secretary of Education, about hoops, the White House, and what he does on a regular basis. The 3x3 team that Arne (former captain of the men's basketball team at Harvard) played on won the national tournament, but unfortunately he was unable to travel to Russia with us for political reasons. After spending just a few hours with Arne on the court and at dinner, I sensed how passionate and genuine he truly was. Just being able to shoot 3s, share appetizers, and exchange knowledge with a man of his caliber was an experience I'll never forget.

    What's Up Next? Well, we made it to Russia safe and sound for the FIBA 3x3 World Championships, and it is definitely an interesting environment here in Moscow.

    We went through pool play 5-0, beating Hungary and Brazil in our first day of competition on Thursday and followed with victories over Ukraine, Spain and Argentina on Friday. On Saturday, we play Uruguay in the round of 16. You can tune into Russia2014.fiba.com to check us out live!

    The road to GOLD continues...

    Until next time, be blessed, dream big, keep grinding.

    -- Cierra





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