By Kristie Kahl
Many athletes tend to find success at the end of their careers, but one Rider student began her ascent as a sophomore and has continued to push forth toward the peaks of her career.
Junior diver Amanda Burke has accomplished numerous feats in the past year, and with only two meets under her belt thus far in the season, she has already claimed one of her goals.
While competing in a meet against Seton Hall and Rutgers, Burke became the first Bronc to qualify for the NCAA Zone A Diving competition by winning the one-meter dive with a personal best of 298.30 as well as the three-meter dive.
“It’s a big relief to qualify for the meet because that takes the pressure off,” Burke said.
Burke showed her potential as a rookie when competing in the ECAC (Eastern College Athletic Conference) and the MAAC Championships. At the 2007 MAAC Championships, she won the one-meter dive and finished fourth in the three-meter dive. Burke later won the three-meter dive and took a close second place in the one-meter dive at the 2007 ECAC Championships. At the NCAA Zone Championships, Burke added to her stats, finishing eighth in the one-meter dive and 22nd in the three-meter dive.
Coming out from behind the ranks in her sophomore year, Burke became a threat among the competition, winning either the one-meter or three-meter 12 times in meet competition.
In the fall of 2007, Burke placed second in the one-meter dive and fifth in the three-meter dive at the NCAA Zone A Regional. She was later named to the 2008 Division I Women’s Mid-Major All-America Swimming team by collegeswimming.com.
Burke added to her honorary list after becoming the Female Diver of the Meet at both the 2008 ECAC Championshops after placing first in the three-meter and one-meter dives as well as the 2008 MAAC Championships.
Throughout the season, she broke her own personal bests as well as Rider records. At the MAACs, Burke won the one-meter, breaking her own MAAC record and Rider record with a score of 294.40. She also won the three-meter dive with a MAAC and Loyola pool record of 495.65.
With all of her accomplishments in the regular season, Rider named her the Female Athlete of the Year after becoming the first Bronc swimmer or diver to qualify for the NCAAs, where she placed 35th on the three-meter dive and 39th on the one-meter dive. Burke also claimed MAAC Diver of the Week four times throughout the season.
“I feel unbelievable,” Burke said. “It’s a great feeling to accomplish something I never thought of accomplishing. The accomplishments only set the bar higher for this upcoming season.”
After all of her achievements, there are only two words that come to mind: dedication and determination. Burke has learned from her experiences, training harder each day while building up the tolerance to bench-press 135 pounds.
“An athlete can’t attain the level of competitiveness that she has without making the personal decision to act as though they were training 24/7,” said diving Coach Dennis Ceppa. “Amanda has done this and is now reaping the benefits.”
As Burke continues to be a force to be reckoned with, it seems her success will only carry with her in achieving her goals.
“As a coach, you hope that your athletes have the same love for the sport as you do,” Ceppa said. “Amanda Burke has this love for diving. She trains hard at the pool and acts responsibly outside the pool. As she continues to move forward I expect that Amanda will reach great heights within the world of diving. I can’t wait to see what happens.”