Leav­ing it on the floor

Shauna Bur­ton takes As­cen­sion’s motto to heart

The Compass - - SPORTS - VOL­LEY­BALL BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER nmercer@cbn­com­pass.ca

The As­cen­sion Col­le­giate se­nior fe­male vol­ley­ball team has a sim­ple motto its play­ers fol­low re­li­giously.

It goes a lit­tle some­thing like this — be­fore the ball hits the floor, your body hits the floor. It’s a mantra that keeps play­ers fo­cused on leav­ing ev­ery­thing be­tween the lines of the vol­ley­ball court.

It’s also a mantra team cap­tain Shauna Bur­ton takes to heart ev­ery time she steps on the floor.

Watch­ing her play, it’s not hard to see the 17-year-old Bay Roberts res­i­dent wears it on her sleeve when she mans the mid­dle po­si­tion for her club. It’s in the way she tire­lessly works on both sides of the ball and in the way she leads her team.

“It’s what we tell our­selves be­fore ev­ery game,” she said.

In a game re­cently, Bur­ton was pre­sented with a chance to live the mantra in real time. Hav­ing been fooled by a play at the net, she was caught on the wrong side as the op­pos­ing player knocked the ball into the cen­tre of the court and away from her.

Leav­ing her feet and go­ing par­al­lel to the gym­na­sium floor, she saved the ball and man­aged to se­cure a point when it hit the floor.

“I knew I had to get to that ball,” said Bur­ton. “We even man­aged to get a point out of it.”

It’s this de­sire to put ev­ery­thing she has into the sport that has helped her through al­most a decade in the sport.

As Bur­ton speaks with The Com­pass, she is near­ing the twi­light of her high school ca­reer. At this level, vol­ley­ball has a quick turn­around.

The provin­cial tour­na­ments are fin­ished in the first weeks of De­cem­ber. Sure, there are club cham­pi­onships in the spring, but they aren’t the same as the AAAA tour­na­ment.

“I’m sure there will be some cry­ing and hugs,” said Bur­ton, re­flect­ing on what the end means. “The team has come a long way. Ev­ery­one is really good with each other.”

This sea­son, un­like in the past, As­cen­sion doesn’t get to waltz into the provin­cial tour­na­ment not hav­ing played a re­gional qual­i­fier. Blake­town’s Cres­cent Col­le­giate stands be­tween them and the tour­na­ment.

“We’re look­ing for­ward to the chal­lenge,” she said. “I think we’re go­ing to do well with it.” Lov­ing it from the start What be­gan as just try­ing the sport be­cause her friends were play­ing it has blos­somed into an eter­nal love for the game.

“It was a thing in Grade 7 that all the girls tried out for the team,” said Bur­ton.

A nat­u­ral ath­lete, she took to the sport right away. Her then coach, Carolyn Lye, slot­ted her in the mid­dle po­si­tion from the start partly due to her tall, slen­der frame — Bur­ton stands five­feet-10-inches now.

Since her time at Amal­ga­mated Acad­emy in Bay Roberts, her love for the sport has only blos­somed fur­ther.

“I’ve loved ev­ery minute of it,” said Bur­ton. “There has never been a time when I have not loved the sport. I re­mem­ber think­ing this is so cool.” The quar­ter­back Man­ning the mid­dle on the court is like be­ing in the mid­dle of a foot­ball hud­dle. There are in­struc­tions to re­lay to team­mates and plays to make on both sides of the ball.

Bur­ton is re­spon­si­ble for be­ing a coach on the floor. She spots dif­fer­ent kinds of serves on de­fence, and plays de­coy on the of­fen­sive end.

“I like stuff­ing the ball at the net,” said Bur­ton. “My of­fen­sive and de­fen­sive games are pretty much the same.”

As the sun be­gins to set on the fi­nal days of Bur­ton’s high school ca­reer, her last year with the team is bring­ing things full cir­cle for the young ath­lete.

Her first coach be­comes her last coach and things just seem right.

“It is pretty fit­ting to fin­ish my high school ca­reer with Carolyn,” said Bur­ton.

NI­CHOLAS MERCER/THE COM­PASS

As­cen­sion Col­le­giate vol­ley­ball ath­lete Shauna Bur­ton mans the mid­dle for the se­nior fe­male team.

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