St. Luke's Senior Athletic Signing Day.
t’s true! One of the most exciting moments for a student-athlete is deciding where to take their talents to the next level. Years of hard work have led to this moment, and it’s time to celebrate our athletes’ important decisions. St. Luke’s celebrated our first three senior signings on February 6, 2023: Haley Patterson, Andrew Burchett, and Taylor Jackson (more signings are coming soon!).
Kennesaw State University Volleyball
Haley Patterson will be playing volleyball at Kennesaw State University. She decided to attend KSU because she really liked the campus, and the coaches and team were very welcoming and nice.
St. Luke’s Varsity Volleyball helped prepare Haley for the next level by teaching her about hard work and discipline. Her teammates would likely describe her as even-keeled, driven, responsible, and funny. One of her strengths is that she doesn’t let things get to her while on the court, like missing a hit or shanking a ball. Haley has learned a great deal about teamwork over the years: no matter how hard you try, you can’t do it all on your own.
Outside of sports, Haley loves going to the beach, going out on the boat, shopping for clothes, and hanging out with friends. In 5 years, she hopes to have a good job.
Emory University Track and Field
Andrew Burchett will be running track and field at Emory University. He decided to attend Emory because he wanted to go somewhere with amazing academics that also had a running program that would allow him to continue to improve for the next four years. He also felt like he fit into their program, unlike any of the other schools he toured.
St. Luke’s helped mold Andrew to become a better leader. He says, "At bigger schools where people don't know each other as well, leaders are typically distinguished solely by their ability." However, at St. Luke's, your respect is earned on other merits as well, such as accountability and dedication. As a new teammate at St. Luke’s, he had to quickly learn how to earn the trust and respect of others and says, "As a new teammate, I found out quickly that simply being good at my sport wasn't enough to gain their respect. I had to earn it each and every day. That meant working hard at practice, handling little things such as the warm-up with precision and respect, showing up to team events and functions, and supporting my other teammates even when I may not have done my best." His teammates would agree that he expects the best from them, and that Andrew will support and respect anyone who puts in the effort.
Andrew has enjoyed watching the running community at St. Luke’s grow in such a short time and says, "When I first got on campus, the team was proud of making it to state. Now, winning is expected, and, as a result, the program has gained interest from others who may not have given track and field a shot."
He admits that he possesses various gifts that give him an advantage when running: longer Achilles tendons and narrow hips make his strides more efficient, and long legs give him a longer stride length. But his greatest strength is his obsession with running. He says, "Many people are motivated for a short period of time, while others are disciplined and are able to continue even when it gets hard. However, obsession is different. Whereas those who are motivated or disciplined are motivated to work, obsession makes work seem like second nature; the alternative is too absurd to think about. I constantly ask myself what I can do to be just a little bit better. Once I figure that part out, I obsess over the minutiae of how I get there. For me, doing something well or winning a race isn't enough. I work until failure simply isn't possible."
When he isn't running, Andrew enjoys hobbies that allow him to constantly improve and compete.He loves going to speech and debate tournaments and noticing his improvement in public speaking. He’s a huge fan of cooking and learning new recipes. Each time he cooks, it’s an opportunity to try new things while becoming comfortable with what is familiar. Last but not least, Andrew enjoys lifting because it improves his track ability, but it's also a great way for him to build self-confidence and challenge himself physically in ways other than track.
5 years from now, Andrew wants to still be working just as hard and hopes to go to law school.
Spring Hill College Cross Country/Track and Field
Taylor Jackson will run track and cross-country at Spring Hill College. She chose Spring Hill because it felt like home to her even during her first campus tour in 9th grade. The size of the school really stood out to her because she knows the importance of that one-on-one relationship with teachers and coaches. Also, being close to home while also getting to experience college by living on campus made the decision easy.
Taylor only started her running career two years ago, but the lack of time pushed her to work even harder. When she started, she never imagined having the chance to run in college, but the stars aligned, and the program seems like the perfect fit for her. Coach Russell was exactly what she needed to get her running career off to a good start. She appreciates that he has always been patient with her and Charlie Anne but pushed them to adapt quickly and expected success. Coach Jones's experience and positivity have helped Taylor on her hardest days.The St. Luke’s running community has been more than Taylor ever dreamed of, creating the most amazing friendships in just two short years. Taylor says, "The St. Luke’s Cross Country and Track program accepted me and my inexperience from the very beginning. I was allowed to develop my love of running without any judgment. While practices and races continue to be challenging and require extreme toughness, I have learned from the program to respect that challenge and turn it into something I love." The shared experience of running brings Taylor so much joy.
While running is something that she is fairly new to, Taylor believes that, as a captain and runner, her teammates would say that she brings all of her efforts and drive every single day and that she’s passionate and committed. She says, "I do not see running as something that I do once a day and forget about it. Running is a part of my lifestyle, and it is something I put lots of thought into and appreciate. I realize how much effort and mental toughness are required to get better, and I am not afraid of giving it all that I have."
Even though runners race for their own personal bests, Taylor realizes that teamwork is vital to performance. She says, "The runs don't seem as brutal when you are sharing the experience with your team. Besides the best memories, I hope that I will leave my team with just one thing: I hope I’ve shown them that there is no place I’d rather be than running with each of them."
In 5 years, Taylor hopes to be one step closer to med school—and still running, always running!