Those who know Savannah Burr tend to run out of breath when talking about her personal attributes.
Responsible, perfectionist, humble, gracious, tough and even a bit obsessive – especially when it comes to homework – are all on the lengthy list.
But what best describes Burr – the recent Orting High graduate who captured back-to-back Class 1A state titles in the triple jump, a state title in the long jump and all-Nisqually League honors in volleyball and basketball while being selected valedictorian – is determination.
Burr filled her plate her senior year, competing in three sports and taking loads of Advanced Placement courses as well as being involved in other extracurricular activities. She didn’t leave herself any room for procrastination or senioritis. She was determined to do it all, and do it all well, even if it meant sacrificing her personal time.
“Basically, all I did was practice and homework,” Burr said. “Then on the weekends it was mostly homework, eat, go to sleep and shower.
“I remember I pretty much slept the entire time during spring break.”
Honoring her hard work and success, The News Tribune is recognizing Burr as its 2012 All-Area High School Senior Female Athlete of the Year.
While Burr is flattered by the many kind words of her coaches, teachers and peers, it was two ominous words – Osgood-Schlatter, uttered by her doctor before track season – that had the greatest impact.
Osgood-Schlatter is a knee condition most often found in those who compete in sports involving a lot of running, jumping, kneeling and squatting. There is swelling – and it is often painful.
Burr said she had to have surgery and that the injury nagged her throughout the season. It forced her to miss a meet, and she had physical therapy almost every day.
“It was really painful to do any kind of jumping,” Burr said.
But Burr didn’t let the injury stop her. Instead, she pushed herself through her training and physical therapy to get back to her state championship form.
“I was really disappointed,” Burr said about her injury. “But I was more determined. I had a badly sprained ankle the year before, and I thought if I could overcome that, I could overcome this, too. I just had to take a lot of ibuprofen.”
It didn’t appear to bother her at the state track and field meet in May. She ended the first day of competition with her first state trophy in the long jump after a mark of 17 feet, 7 inches. She followed that by defending her state title in the triple jump, winning with a leap of 37-11/2.
Burr’s performances helped Orting win its first team track and field championship in school history.
“The more pressure and the tougher it is, the more likely she is to perform well,” said Orting coach Lisa Sorrell. “She is a big-meet girl. That is Savannah. She is very determined and very focused.”
Sorrell said she will miss what Savannah brought to the track team, as well as to the school and her volleyball and basketball teams, with her humility and selfless attitude. Sorrell said she is hoping others at the school can learn from Burr in how hard she worked to achieve her goals.
“When you look at what she has accomplished at such a young age, it is just amazing,” Sorrell said. “But she’ll be so gracious about it at the same time. You would never know if you just met her because it is never about her. It’s about what she can do for others. She is always so solid and so dependable.”
If there is anything Burr could work on, Sorrell said, it’s taking a break.
“She is very much a perfectionist,” Sorrell said. “She is so responsible. In fact, if anything, we would have to work on her not taking on so much.”
Burr will attend the University of Washington and said she wants to study physical therapy after being inspired by her physical therapist, Brad Harvie.
Sorrell said she has been encouraging Burr to walk on with the UW track and field team, too.
If Burr continues to push herself and keep her same humble attitude, there is no reason to think her already long list of accomplishments won’t get even longer.
“I’m very honored that people recognize me for that,” Burr said. “I feel very blessed.”
THE NEWS TRIBUNE’S 2011-12 SENIOR FEMALE ATHLETES OF THE YEAR
SCHOOL / ATHLETE
Auburn / Katrynia Todd
Auburn Mountainview / Caitlin Carr
Auburn Riverside / Rachel Atwood
Beamer / Sydney Rogalla
Bellarmine Prep / Nakaira Petty
Bethel / Karina Farr
Bonney Lake / Adara Winder
Capital / Aviva Browning
Cascade Christian / Kadyn Coltom
Central Kitsap / Jenna Warner
Centralia / Makayla Anglin
Charles Wright Academy / Janay Davis
Clover Park / Caitlyn Johnson
Curtis / McKenzie Blackner
Decatur / Abby McFaul
Eatonville / Laccie Hill
Emerald Ridge / Jennifer Anderson Kimmie Stueckle
Enumclaw / Michelle McKinlay
Federal Way / Madison Campbell
Fife / Lateah Holmes
Foss / Bonnie Albers
Franklin Pierce / Kelly Crawford
Gig Harbor / Elyanna McCullough
Graham-Kapowsin / Kylee Geffre
Jefferson / Lindsay Dahl
Kent-Meridian / Chloe Watson
Kentlake / Nicole Kuntz
Kentridge / Molly Shiroshi
Kentwood / Tess Manthou Alyx Toeaina
Lakes / Mackenzie Allison
Life Christian / Rachel Goodman
Lincoln / D’Nara Jones
Mount Rainier / Kiana Gandy
Mount Rainier Lutheran / Chelsea Waetzig
Mount Tahoma / Yona Chambers
North Thurston / Catie Mets
Northwest Christian / Elizabeth Weber
Olympia / Lexi Fesenbek
Orting / Savannah Burr
Peninsula / Rachel Lewis
Puyallup / Makenzie Pletcher
River Ridge / Necy Wade
Rogers / Jordan Asher
Seattle Christian / Katie Collier
Shelton / Allison Hunter
South Kitsap / Brianna Smallidge
Spanaway Lake / Leanne Willingham
Stadium / Kenley O’Hanlon
Steilacoom / Cherokee Kim
Sumner / Leah DeDominces
Tacoma Baptist / Paige Narayan
Tahoma / Cassidy Richmond
Timberline / Sasha Weber
Tumwater / Annie Torfin
Vashon / Catherine Amick
W.F. West / Lauren Fisher
Washington / Sam Schubach
White River / Cassidy France
Wilson / Alexa Olague
Yelm / Jaynani Cababat
* Athletes are nominated by schools or selected by The News Tribune