Charleston Southern Women's Indoor Track and Field team is off and running, and after being selected fourth overall in the Big South Preseason Poll, senior Danielle Burnett says the team feels like they have something to prove.
"Being such a young team, a lot of people underestimate us," Burnett said. "It's hard when coaches only have high school records to take into account for the poll, but we know we can be a championship-winning team."
Burnett is already off to a strong start and was named the Big South Women's Indoor Track Athlete of the Week on January 19 after placing eighth overall in the 400-meter dash at the Clemson Invitational.
We sat down with Burnett and got to know more about the senior sprinter and self-professed HGTV-addict in this week's Friday Feature.
Tell me a little about how you think the season is going:
The season is going pretty well. We have a new team that is a young team overall and I feel like we've adapted to the new environment and new coaching we have this year. The vision to win a championship is still there, but the way of getting there training-wise is different.
What would you say your role on the team is?
I'm a senior, so I have to establish rapport and execute my job to the fullest of my abilities. When freshmen come in they have their records from high school, but the transition to college can be difficult. Every senior on the team has a job to be a consistent body that's going to pull the team along. Hopefully, through our drive as seniors, everyone else will follow suit.
When did you start competing in track and field?
I started my sophomore year of high school. I was kind of late in the game, but I've made pretty good improvements along the way.
Favorite pro sports team:
Where are you from?
I'm from Canada, but my family moved to Georgia when I was five, so the United States is home for me.
Do you have any siblings?
I have two older brothers and one older sister.
Do you come from an athletic family?
My sister is the brainiac and has a PhD. My mom played sports and she was an excellent high jumper in high school, but she had a knee injury so she couldn't play in college. My dad and one of my older brothers also played sports in high school, and my other brother was in marching band.
Favorite pre-race meal:
Anything involving pasta- probably some kind of chicken alfredo
What is your favorite class?
This semester I'm taking Small Business Management (I'm a Business Management major) and I really enjoy that class. The professor gives us a lot of opportunities to complete assignments in groups, which I like, and he encourages us to come up with our own ideas and think outside the box. I like that, while it's structured, it feels like a learning environment with fewer boundaries.
Secret talent or fact:
I take pictures. I got a Nikon camera for Christmas and I just started taking pictures and building my portfolio. I like taking pictures of people, especially candid lifestyle photos of people just going about their day.
What is your nickname?
Most surprising/embarrassing song on your iPhone:
Probably 'Party In the U.S.A.' by Miley Cyrus… but that's a great song so I'm not even ashamed about it.
Two words to describe you on the track:
Two words to describe you off the track:
Fun and friendly
Do you prefer indoor or outdoor track?
I definitely prefer outdoor. We practice on an outdoor track every day so it's what you're used to. Indoor is the beginning of the season, you're coming off December training when it's colder outside and the conditions are different. During the outdoor season, you're getting progressively better as the season is coming to a climax and it's just the perfect conditions outside to do what you need to do.
Best advice you've ever gotten:
When I was in high school, my mom used to always say to me 'Don't be afraid to be the dark horse,' and that really stuck with me. There will always be athletes that coaches will favor or people that come onto a team with impressive statistics, but my mom would tell me it's okay to not be well-known initially because you'll always make yourself known through your actions and the work you put forward.
Favorite ice cream flavor:
Total Tracks by Breyers
Mountains or beach?
Describe your recruitment experience:
It was pretty stressful because I signed extremely late. It was around mid-June and most people had signed in April. I knew I wanted to get to a DI school and I knew I had to get my times down, which didn't happen until the end of my senior year of high school. Charleston Southern came to the Taco Bell Classic in Columbia and Tosha Ansley recruited me from there.
Does your family ever get to come and see you compete?
My mom was at our first meet in Clemson and my parents come to a lot of outdoor meets. They don't get to come to a lot of our indoor ones because they are pretty far away and the times aren't that convenient.
Favorite sporting moment from your time here at CSU:
Last year's Florida relays when we broke the school's 4x4 record. Everything was just falling into place that day and everyone was performing well. It was just really cool to see everything come to fruition in that one moment after working so hard last season.
What do you want to do when you graduate?
I'm going to pursue my MBA. Right now, I'm shopping around looking at different masters programs and working on applications. I'm also reaching out to coaches since I do have that extra year of eligibility after redshirting my sophomore year. I'll probably go back to Georgia because, while I've liked it here, I feel like it's time for me to go back home.
Favorite TV show:
I really like Property Brothers and really any show on HGTV.
Favorite sport to play/watch outside of track and field:
I like to play basketball and I like to watch football.
Do you have any superstitions or pre-race rituals?
I never wear socks when I run in spikes and I always wear a headband.
Who is the funniest/goofiest person on the team?
We've got a lot of those! I would say it's between Timothy Davis and Vincent Johnson.
Who is the best singer?
Who is the team cheerleader?
Who is the most superstitious?
I would probably say Vincent Johnson, but all of the high jumpers on our team are pretty superstitious.
What's been your favorite memory as a team?
During first semester last year, we were all hanging out on a Friday afternoon after practice around the reflection pond. We all just decided, spur of the moment, let's go to the beach. We made sure everyone had a ride and spent the whole afternoon and part of the evening just hanging out on the beach.
What's Coach Thompson's 'go-to phrase?'
'Mind over matter'
What's the biggest thing you've learned from Coach Thompson?
Mind over matter—your body won't go where your mind won't take it.
Who is the funniest coach?
Probably Coach Thompson.
How would you describe the other coaches?
Coach Stintzi is sly and funny too. Coach Blanton is professional but he's also like your cool uncle. Coach Iaun is really relatable because he's younger. He's like a cousin.
If you had to only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
I'm Jamaican, so I would have to say oxtails with peas. My mom makes excellent oxtails.
If you were a superhero, what superpower would you have?
I would choose to be able to fly or be invisible.
What are your hobbies outside of track and field?
Taking pictures, listening to music and going down the rabbit hole of Pinterest
If you could go back in time, what decade would you travel to?
Probably the 90's because of the culture and the music and lack of technology. It would be cool to go back and appreciate what all we have today.
What are you going to miss most about being a student-athlete at CSU?
I would say the structure. As a student-athlete, you have a lot of things mapped out for you and you have a set schedule. Out in the real world, you have to decide what your day-to-day is going to look like.
How do you think being a student-athlete at CSU has shaped you for the better?
It's made me a more committed person. Now, I feel like if I put my mind to something I'm going to get it accomplished. I also think it's helped me see the bigger purpose behind everything I do and not be an individualistic type of person.
When it comes to her outlook on the season, Burnett is all about putting the team first.
"A lot of people look at track as an individual sport, but I don't like to think of it that way," Burnett added. "I think it's a dangerous mentality to have."
Burnett says she's taking Coach Thompson's advice and exercising mind over matter to accomplish this season's goals.
"Personally, I want to see improvement upon last year," Burnett said. "I would like to end this year faster than I was last year and I want to get to my best marks from last year sooner this year. As far as my goals for the whole team go, I would like to see us win an outdoor championship or at least get a ring as a top-three team."
Charleston Southern'S Women's Track and Field has a bye-week but will be back up and running next Friday (February 3) at the Camel City Invitational in Winston-Salem, N.C.