June 13, 2014
RIDIN' WITH CIERRA
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 at the FIBA World Championship tournament in Russia.
As for the trip to Moscow, it proved quite productive, as Burdick and teammates Sara Hammond, Jewell Loyd and Tiffany Mitchell fashioned a 9-0 record and won gold medals in Russia.
Burdick also moved to New York City for the summer to serve as an intern at ABC's Good Morning America.
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 third installment.
GOLD Never Gets Old
WOW! What an experience! Now that I actually have time to sit down, take a breath, and really reflect, all I can think about is how thankful and grateful I am for the experience USA Basketball allowed me to have these past couple of weeks. It was a true honor and privilege to be able to wear USA across my chest and capture my fourth gold medal.
Normally, after you do something a few times it loses its sweetness. It becomes routine. But when it comes to representing my country and having that gold medal placed around my neck, nothing ever gets old. In fact, the feeling only gets greater. The amount of pride that overwhelmed my body when they played our national anthem over the loud speakers after we beat Russia in the world championship game is a feeling and experience I will never forget.
Thanks to the combined efforts of FIBA, 3x3 Planet, and Moscow, Russia, the 2014 3x3 World Championship was a true success. The stands were packed with fans every day, the play was unbelievably competitive and physical, and the venue was like nothing I had ever played in before.
All the games were held outside on sport court surface. There were a total of four courts. The main court, which broadcasted all the live-streamed games, was the only court with a roof. It was surrounded by levels of stands on either side, included a VIP lounge for special guests, and had an enormous screen to watch live games, top plays of the day, and my new favorite Nike commercial with LeBron James. All the other courts were outside of the venue and reminded me of the blacktop I grew up playing on in my childhood neighborhood.
Aside from the basketball, Moscow was very interesting. The best way to explain it is saying it's like New York City on steroids. The city NEVER sleeps! The sun doesn't go down until 10 p.m. and it rises again at 3 a.m. Air conditioning is rare, cigarette smoke is everywhere, and traffic can turn a twenty-minute commute into an hour and 15 minutes. However, on a more positive note, tradition and history fill the city, nearly everyone I saw was physically fit or in some type of shape, and at night, it's one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen.
On one of our touring escapades we visited Red Square and saw the Kremlin and Saint Basil's Cathedral. The Cathedral was definitely my favorite tourist attraction. It reminded me of a mix between Aladdin's castle out of the Disney film Aladdin and King Kandy's Candy Castle out of the childhood favorite board game, Candy Land.
The taxi experience that got me to Red Square could honestly be its own blog, but let's just say I have never been so happy to get out of a car in my entire life. I'm convinced that there are absolutely no traffic laws in Moscow. I didn't see a speed limit posted the entire time I was there, and the only law that I think is really enforced is stop at red and go on green. Other than that, anything, and I mean ANYTHING, goes.
Lanes were nonexistent, so everyone drove all over the road, motorcycles were constantly weaving in and out between cars, and if that wasn't bad enough, the taxi drivers that were taking us to Red Square thought it would be "fun" to race one another. However, I would like to say there was absolutely NOTHING fun about that car ride. The entire time I was holding on for dear life, closing my eyes, and praying to God to help us make it there safely. Clearly He was with us, because I'm alive and writing this blog, but sheesh, I've never experienced so many near-death encounters in my life!
Aside from the crazy taxi driver, my trip to Moscow was really amazing. My teammates were great, Travis Johnson AKA "Sir Johnson", the 3x3 program director, did a fantastic job of taking care of us, and we accomplished what we set out to do: Win the GOLD.
Now that I'm back in New York, I'm excited to get back to work with Good Morning America and Robin Roberts. Great experience and tons of knowledge await me!
Until next time, stay hungry, stay humble, stay happy!