Q & A With Desiree Burns
Desiree Burns, a junior rower from Poughkeepsie, N.Y., recently checked in with VirginiaSports.com to preview the team’s upcoming competition at the NCAA South/Central Regional. Virginia is set to defend its title in Oak Ridge, Tenn., from May 16-17.
Question: How is the team preparing for South/Central Regionals? As a junior with two team championships under your belt, how important is it to you to defend the title?
Burns: I think our team has really come together in the past few weeks. We have all had positive attitudes going into each practice and we strive to be competitive every day whether it be with the boat sitting next to us, or the clock. I think it is exciting going in to South/Centrals this year having had a season with ups and downs. It takes some of the pressure off of us, yet we are hungry to go in to the race and show what we are and what we have been capable of. It is not necessarily about winning the title and going in to this race and sweeping all of the events. I think that we are going into this race looking to have the best race we have ever had and to have fun. Winning the title would be great, but if we fall short and still have the race of our lives, I think we will be satisfied with that. We need to realize that we are going to be seeing some of the fastest crews in the country this weekend. Michigan State, Michigan and Clemson are among the top crews right now, and I think we are right in the mix with them, so we are ready to go in fight to the end.
Question: What is your major? Do you have a favorite class at UVa?
Burns: I am a sociology major. I have taken quite a few classes in the sociology department that have been really enjoyable. I think my favorite was criminology. It was really interesting.
Question: Talk about rebounding from the second-place finish at ACCs and coming back to have an outstanding weekend in Boston. Do you feel a sense of momentum heading into regionals? Do you feel a sense of revenge having come in second-place the last time you were on the course in Oak Ridge?
Burns: Boston was an unbelievable race. We really brought it together that weekend to rally against Harvard and USC. It was an amazing feeling to come from behind against two great crews. It allowed us to see our potential and it really raised our confidence. I believe we all are very hungry to beat Clemson this weekend among other crews. Since ACC’s we have really come together and rallied to make our way back up. The race in Boston was very good for our team dynamic and confidence going into the upcoming race. We have grown tremendously as a team and as individual boats since ACC’s and I think Clemson will definitely get a better race out of us this weekend. It is very exciting to be given the chance to race them again, because we all are feeling very confident now in our speed.
Question: What is your favorite Coach Sauer quote?
Burns: I can’t pinpoint a favorite quote of his. Many people have said some of his most famous quotes in previous interviews. He has some funny ones; strange things come out of his mouth at practice.
Question: Do you have a favorite athlete at UVa?
Burns: I do not have a favorite athlete at UVa. I don’t think it’s about an individual athlete being a favorite. It is important to realize that all of those athletes make up a team. It is very exciting to watch the teams that are rising now though like tennis and lacrosse. I would like to think that the rowing team should also be put in this category. We are forced to be good teammates and have a good team dynamic, and I think we are all grateful for that because it has made us better people, and helped us to make great friends.
Question: What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Burns: Reading, I’m a nerd.
Question: What is something people might be surprised to know about the UVa rowing team?
Burns: I think that most people are surprised to hear that we do not practice in the mornings that often. [Head coach] Kevin [Sauer] hates getting up early as much as we do. If class schedules permit, we do as many practices in the afternoon as we can. This is something that turns people away from rowing, but it’s a myth at UVa! Join the team!
Question: What went into your decision to come to UVa? Did you know about the rich rowing tradition?
Burns: I was one of the few people that actually took all five official visits to schools. UVa being my second, I think I was sold to the school right after visiting. It was absolutely my favorite of the schools I looked at. I think my parents helped a lot in the decision-making process. My dad had spreadsheets and lots of information on schools with rowing programs and he was able to determine which schools had the best academics-to-rowing balance. UVa being one of the top universities in the nation, and having a historically, as well as currently, awesome rowing program, just seemed like a great fit.
Question: What is your proudest athletic achievement?
Burns: This is a really hard question for me. I think that my proudest achievement has been making the junior national team three years in a row and deciding to try out for the Under-23 team this summer (with teammate Amanda Chase). It makes me really proud to know that I can row beyond the confines of my high school and my college team. It is exciting to be able to row with the top girls in the country. I also am proud of that Boston race this year. But I think that my proudest athletic achievement is yet to come, so I look forward to getting it.
Question: Who or what inspires you?
Burns: I am inspired by my teammates. I am inspired by Olympians. I am inspired by all athletes at the collegiate level. I think what college athletes do is awesome. There is such a hard balance when in school and it is great to watch people rise up and succeed in both academics as well as their sport. I am inspired most by my teammates that continue to come back to practice each day even though we are sore, tired and wanted to quit the day before. It is these people that keep us all accountable and coming back each day.