St. Augustine native gives glory to friends, family, God
By Clayton Coffman | firstname.lastname@example.org
Flagler volleyball player Justine Burkhardt has a ton of athletic ability. She’s one of the Saints’ best players; however, she doesn’t take any of the credit. “My faith in God has gotten me to be the person I am now,” she said.
“I can’t take any of the credit. It’s the people around me that makes me strive to be better,” Burkhardt said.
Burkhardt started her collegiate career at Winthrop University. “I wanted to get out of Florida. Everyone was going to state schools,” Burkhardt said.
She redshirted and sat out her freshman year only to decide later that she should come back to Florida. What was the reason for the move? “I wanted to contribute and do more and have more of an impact,” Burkhardt said.
Her decision to enroll at Flagler was easy too becasue it was so close to home. “It did help that it [Flagler] was in town and close to home,” Burkhardt said.
Volleyball isn’t the only sport in Burkhardt’s life though. Before deciding to pursue volleyball full-time, tennis had her focus.
“My sophomore year [in high school], I really wanted to work on tennis,” Burkhardt said. Her parents, Peter and Debbie, along with her brother Joey, who plays tennis at the University of Florida, are avid players. Burkhardt, who attended Pedro Menendez High School, had plenty of motivation to keep tennis in her life. She was a three-time All-State selection and a four-time All-County team member.
But then something happened, and even Burkhardt isn’t sure what it was. “I don’t know what happened, but it switched,” she said. “My mom wouldn’t let me quit anything.”
So instead of giving up volleyball, Burkhardt took her mother’s advice and kept at it.
Since her sophomore year, Burkhardt has been one of Flagler’s best players. Last season, Burkhardt led the Saints with 469 kills and 387 digs. The transition for Burkhardt to make an impact was thanks in large part due to head coach Taylor Mott.
“One of her [Mott’s] strengths is that she has played volleyball at a collegiate level,” Burkhardt said.
With graduation coming for Burkhardt next fall, there will be plenty of new opportunities for new players to step up.
This coming year we’re going to see a lot more people step into leadership roles and see more spots on the court open up,” Burkhardt said.
What does Burkhardt want to do after graduation? For her, that decision is easy.
“I can’t ever imagine not playing [volleyball]. I’m going to try and do whatever it takes to keep playing,” Burkhardt said.