CHATHAM, NJ – In case anyone is wondering how Lauren Burke’s senior season of Chatham girls volleyball is going: She’s killing it.
The 5-11 outside hitter has been hammering double-digits in kills this season, helping the Cougars move to a 4-1 start to the 2021 campaign.
But Burke is so versatile in her play, it would be unfair to label her as only a “killer”. Chatham coach Anna Amster has taken advantage of Burke’s skills to place her all over the court, with positive results.
“She’s always been a player who steps up wherever she’s needed,” Amster said. “Years past, she was made to play a position she’s not used to, but she’s been an individual who supports whatever the team needs and I think any coach would be lucky to have a player like that. Lauren does it no questions asked and that’s why she’s so valuable.”
Lauren Burke is the Chatham Wealth Management Athlete of the Week.
In her two previous varsity seasons, Burke compiled 200 kills, 34 blocks, 174 digs, and 34 service aces.
Lauren Burke makes the dig and then kills the set by Brenda Jaroker
“She’s a very level-headed, composed player,” Amster said. “She leads the team by example, on and off the court. She’s just somebody that kids, not only in the varsity program but in other programs look up to because of her skill level and also how she represents herself. She’s not one to brag about her skill, ever. She just shows up and ready to play. She’s really grown as a person and a player, and it’s awesome to see it.”
Burke played a lot of sports growing up and finally had to decide between field hockey and volleyball when she got to CHS. Once she made the choice, she was dedicated to the sport, playing club ball with the Allegro Volleyball Club in Denville and also training with a national team that represents New Jersey in tournaments around the country, such as the Capitol Hill Volleyball Class in Washington, D.C.
“Lauren and I were on our first club team together, and I’ve been playing with her for a while,” Chatham senior setter Brenda Jaroker said. “I love having her on the court. She’s so confident. She definitely knows how to pick herself up and pick others up. She’s so easy to talk to.”
Burke, like everyone else, has been forced to maneuver through the restrictions of the Coronavirus pandemic. A few times during games, she’s had to replace a snapped mask. And when things shut down last year, she had to improvise with her training at home.
“I would hit against my garage and my parents obviously weren’t pleased with that,” Burke said. “I’ve served against it and passed to myself, but you need someone to set you to practice hitting, so it’s harder. I got my brother, Ryan, to play with me and that helped.”
Burke’s two favorite things to do in volleyball are block and hit, but she’s also doing a lot of strategizing in her head.
“There’s a lot to think about,” she said. “You try to find a seam on the court between two players, look to see if the blockers are penetrating the net, or try to make a hit that puts the setter out of position. I feel like I’m still growing and getting better.”
Burke also tried some beach volleyball with classmate Greta Luria, but never got the chance to experience a beach tournament.
“What I get out of volleyball is the closeness and bond we have with our teammates,” Burke said.
Editor’s note: The Athlete of the Week is sponsored by Chatham Wealth Management in recognition of the commitment a Chatham athlete has made to their sport, their school and their community. For over twenty years, Chatham Wealth Management has been committed to putting our clients first by crafting customized investment solutions. Call us at 973-635-4275 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss how we can help meet your financial goals. To learn more about our products and team, visit us at www.chathamwealth.com.