RIDIN' WITH CIERRATennessee rising senior basketball player Cierra Burdick has enjoyed 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've been "Ridin' With Cierra" this summer, as she shared her experiences with USA Basketball and ABC's long-running morning show. We hope you enjoy her sixth and final installment.
The Best Is Yet To Come
When I first touched down in New York in late May about three months ago, I was a nervous wreck. I didn't know anyone, I wasn't in my normal surroundings and I can honestly admit that I was a little scared. But it was a different type of scared. Not the scared that normal people would expect me to have, like getting robbed late at night in the subway or being in the wrong place at the wrong time. No, it wasn't that type of scared at all. I was scared because I wasn't sure whether or not I was going to get better.
You see, I have this daunting fear of being static, of not progressing, growing and learning. I knew that I would gain a great amount of experience and knowledge at my internship, but I wasn't sure how I was going to get better on and off the court. I had some ideas of where I could get my strength and conditioning in and kept hope that I would run into a great trainer, but I wasn't certain about anything.
Nothing was set in stone. However, instead of wasting energy on stressing and worrying, which I've been known to be great at in the past, I prayed. I prayed every night for God to just take the wheel and show me the way. My mom has always told me that God will do ten times greater than anything I can ever imagine or believe, and I can honestly say she's never been more right.
This summer I've grown. I've grown as a player, as an aspiring journalist and as a person. Writing this blog through the course of my journey has really allowed me to capture the essence of my experience and the growth I've made. My hope is that by reading along you've not only gained insight into my life and maybe a little entertainment here and there, but that you've also seen how fear was cast out by faith, and that every day offers a new opportunity to grow, no matter where you are and who you're with.
Since my last edition of "Riding with Cierra," I've definitely made some memories of a lifetime. I've visited the home of ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut (also referred to as "The Mother Ship" by Robin). I've sat down and had dinner with Tennessee great, Michelle Marciniak. And most recently I flew to Minneapolis, Minnesota, to meet up with 51 of my loved ones for a family reunion. I always get a good laugh when people ask me, "do you ever stop?" I'm always quick to flash a huge grin and respond with an assured "never!" My life is just the way I like it: Nonstop.
My trip to Bristol was awesome. Not only did I get to see behind the scenes of all ESPN networks and broadcasts, which by the way was unbelievably overwhelming, but I also ran into some familiar faces. I was sitting in the lobby of one of the buildings, when all of a sudden I caught a glimpse of some Tennessee orange in the corner of my eye. I quickly turned around to see who could possibly be sporting such a beautiful shade of orange in blue country Connecticut only to find UT football coach Butch Jones and company, who were up for the day for ESPN's college football preview. You would have thought I was a kid in a candy store the way I lit up. I instantly jumped out of my seat and ran over to hand out hugs. I hadn't seen any of my Tennessee family in more than two months and for me to run into them in Bristol, Connecticut, of all places was the surprise of the summer.
Going along with the Tennessee theme, during my last weekend in the Big Apple I was fortunate enough to sit down and break bread with one of the greatest point guards to come through the Lady Vol program, Michelle Marciniak. Michelle lives in Pennsylvania but is often in New York for business, so we were able to meet up and exchange some stories. I always cherish the times I get to talk with former players, because I love picking their brains and hearing their Pat chronicles.
What I really admire about Michelle is her drive for success. Just from talking with her at dinner, I immediately picked up that she's a no-excuses kind of woman. There is nothing that will stand in the way of her and her dreams, and that's one of the reasons she was able to lead her team to a national championship and successfully start her entrepreneurship with Sheex. The advice and words of wisdom that Michelle shared with me are definitely some things I will gratefully carry with me into the upcoming season.
After spending nearly two months in New York, I'm surprised my body didn't go into culture shock when I flew straight from the Big Apple to Minneapolis to meet up with my family. Looking back at it now, though, it was the perfect change of pace.
I went from being in the middle of one of the busiest cities in the world to being in the middle of the woods in no-man's-land Barnes, Wisconsin. Instead of hearing taxis and subways, I was hearing the calm of the lake and wildlife. I exchanged my 3-bedroom apartment in west Harlem for a four-bed cabin with an outhouse about 15 strides away. No longer was I surrounded by strangers, but rather my family, some of which I hadn't seen in over 10 years.
All day Saturday was spent in the sun, on the lake. I mastered the paddle board (thanks to my patient cousins), took a serene canoeing expedition with my mom, successfully completed the cross-lake swim, and got the quad muscles burning in what seemed to be a bite-size paddle boat. Throughout the day there was nothing but smiles and laughter across the entire island. I think my cousin said it best when she said, "family reunions should happen more often." It was a fairy tale ending to go back to where it all started for my family to close such an amazing summer.
My mom and I laugh, because it took us 15 minutes just to figure out where all I've traveled since the beginning of summer to now. After several minutes of deep thought and deliberation we figured out that I've been to 19 different states and three different countries. Pretty good for two months, huh?
When I look back at my time spent in the Big Apple and my summer in general, I KNOW God has a great plan for me. The way things coordinated: the once in a lifetime opportunities that were presented to me, the life-long friendships I made, the great training I got in, the community service I was able to do. That kind of stuff just doesn't randomly fall into place. I've been blessed. Blessed beyond measure. I truly believe that this summer was just the beginning of greater things to arise. I know with all my heart that the best is yet to come.
Thank you for following me on my journey. I hope that you all enjoyed "Riding with Cierra" just as much as I enjoyed sharing my experiences with you. Signing off for the last time... Be thankful, be grateful, be blessed.
Special Thanks To:
Good Morning America and ABC for the internship of a lifetime
Robin Roberts for taking me under her wing
Sonny Mullen for showing me the way
Tim Burns & Peter Clark
Boys and Girls Republic for making my passion to serve as a mentor possible
My family & friends for providing me with unconditional love and support
Coach Holly Warlick for supporting me in my summer endeavors
Travis Johnson and USA Basketball for a GOLDen experience
(And last, but not least)
My mom for being my backbone through it all