South County’s Oren and Whitney Burks no longer have space on their calendar - literally. They used to keep track of their schedules in a calendar that their parents bought for them, but as the pair grew, more events meant less space. And eventually, the family ditched the physical calendar all together for a more streamlined method.
“We used to have a calendar that we entered all of their information into so that we could know where everyone was going to be,” said Orlanda Burks, the children's father. “That got a little difficult because things wouldn’t fit and ink started to bleed on the other pages and we wouldn’t be able see it.”
Whitney, a sophomore, was recently named the Patriot District Softball Player of the Year. She’s already made visits to Maryland, Michigan,Texas, Tennessee, Virginia and Virginia Tech. And she recently returned from a visit to the University of Alabama’s Tuscaloosa campus and watched the Crimson Tide play the Florida Gators.
“It was a lot of fun. We got a lot of information from the academic advisor and from the softball team and coaches. We had a great experience watching top-notch softball,” said Whitney, who lists Stanford University as one of her early favorites. “They have a great academic program and a great support system, as well as great softball. So it’d be a really good opportunity,” Whitney Burks said.
While Whitney was courted by Alabama, Oren was being watched by coaches from Purdue University, who traveled to South County last week to see him work out and participate in spring football drills. Oren made quite a showing last season and helped lead his team to the 2011 Virginia AAA Div-5 state championship game. And while the Purdue representatives weren't allowed to say anything beyond a friendly greeting, they intently watched each of the linebacker’s moves.
Oren has received scholarship offers from Purdue, Boston College, Duke, Cincinnati, Maryland, Nebraska, Virginia, Virginia Tech and West Virginia.
“It’s a blessing. I really didn’t think that I would get to this point," Oren said. "I’ve been blessed to have good players and coaches around me to really help me become the person and player that I am today.”
The Updated Schedule
Despite their demanding schedules, both Oren and Whitney get good grades. Oren has received interest letters from several Ivy League schools and says the he’ll pick a school that suits his athletic and academic interests.
“I’m looking to go into business so I like our marketing class at school and our teachers do a great job of giving us experience on what the field will look like. I also like math a lot because it helps out with the business classes,” Oren said. “I’m looking for a great academic school that plays good football in its conference. I want to feel comfortable with their staff and the type of players they recruit.”
Are the siblings competitive? You bet.
"There’s been a lot of healthy competition,” said Wanda Burks, Oren and Whitney’s mother. “Whitney has challenged Oren academically and Oren has challenged Whitney athletically and they’ve both just made each other better. They cheer for each other, support each other and are there for continual encouragement.”
Things won’t slow down anytime soon for the Burks as they continue to add more camps, tournaments and campus visits to the family’s Outlook calendar. But the family has made the experience one that they share and enjoy together.
"It’s really great to come home to a good environment where we can relax and get away from sports and school. With our parents being so supportive of us, driving us everywhere and putting the time in to get us where we want to be, it means a lot and it’s great to have their support,” said Whitney Burks.