Cutting down nets, raising banners and winning national titles are what dual-sport sensation Meagan Burke knows best.
The six-foot-two-inch Jacksonville native topped off her impressive collegiate volleyball career by capturing a national championship in addition to receiving an Academic All-American accolade.
UT’s volleyball program is among one of the most successful Division II programs, and to no surprise, Burke was a big reason why. In fact, she provided a strong mix of skills with a positive attitude on the court that she easily transitioned to the softball field.
“Meagan is the type of person that brings a ton of energy to the field,” junior second baseman Alyssa Colletti said. “We can always count on her to lighten the mood and help the team relax when faced with intense situations.”
While Burke can be relied on for helping to keep the team’s composure together, she is counted on for more than just that. She was selected as First-Team All-Sunshine State Conference last year starting in all 41 games, recording 41 hits, six doubles, two triples, with a team leading five home runs. The start of the 2015 season was no different.
Burke connected for two solo homers, sealing off the opening victory followed by a two game sweep over Southwest Baptist last weekend in Clearwater, FL.
“My strongest asset is definitely my hitting,” Burke said who finished last years season with a batting average of .347. “I have always been a decent hitter so I try to maintain that, and try to better my team as much as possible.”
In any sport, improving in a particular area takes time and the awareness of recognizing strengths and weaknesses, and Burke knows just areas to improve upon.
“I know my strengths and weaknesses in both sports and know what I need to work on. I focus on a particular area each day in practice and try to get better on it,” Burke said.
Senior Jessica Wagner, the middle blocker for the volleyball team respects Burke for all the effort she puts into each sport.
“I absolutely loved playing with her. She knew how to keep everyone in check. Aside from being the glue on the team, Wagner admires Burke for so much more. I am amazed how she can flawlessly transition from one sport to another, yet still excel in both.”
Despite the limited availability of Burke’s daily schedule with balancing two collegiate sports, she makes her hard work ethics and positive attitude more than noticeable. Burke is the only dual-sport athlete at UT who competes in both a regular season and post-season play. That in itself is what sets Burke apart from other athletes at UT, not just on the volleyball or softball team.
Volleyball coach Chris Catanach commented on how difficult being a dual-sport athlete is. “Meagan is an outstanding young women and one of the best two sport athletes in the University of Tampa history. I am so impressed at the level of play she competed for us at.” Burke ensures the opportunities that she has been given to play on two teams outweigh the stress that comes with it.
“It takes a lot of dedication to play two sports but I love them both so much along with my teammates that I couldn’t imagine my college experience without them. It takes a lot of time management but I’d rather battle through struggling than not,” Burke said.
Burke has begun to shift gears from protecting the volleyball net to making plays at first base without any hesitation.
Although the sport seasons and venues have changed, Burke believes this group of young, talented athletes has all the tools in their back pockets to make a national title run.
This season the UT softball team has gained national recognition in the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) with a ranking at No. 17, something that Burke is used to getting.
Candace Martino can be reached at email@example.com