Olivia Burns To Continue Volleyball Career At IUP (11/19/16)

(Photo submitted by Clarion Area Volleyball) Olivia Burns seated with parents Jodi and Joe Burns. Clarion Head Coach Shari Campbell and longtime Assistant Coach Erika Cathcart.

(Photo submitted by Clarion Area Volleyball)
Olivia Burns seated with parents Jodi and Joe Burns. Clarion Head Coach Shari Campbell and longtime Assistant Coach Erika Cathcart.

Clarion Area Lady Cat Volleyball standout Olivia Burns recently signed a letter of intent to play for Coach Scott Pennewill, at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

Pennewill, a former Clarion University head coach, has his team turning the corner. The 26 year collegiate head coaching veteran took over an IUP team that won only two matches in 2014. This season’s Crimson Hawks have a 20-11 record and made it to the PSAC semifinals.

Olivia, the daughter of Joe and Jodi Burns, was recently named All-KSAC and All-District Nine.

Clarion Area Volleyball coach Shari Campbell had this to say about her outside hitter, “Olivia will bring a great level of understanding of the game to IUP Volleyball. I am excited to see her compete at the next level.”

Coach Campbell went on to say this about Olivia, “She has been an important member of Clarion Volleyball for the past 4 years. She’ll be missed!”

Coach Pennewill, who has known Olivia for quite a while, said, “I have known Olivia and the Burns family since 1999 when I became the Head Coach at Clarion. So I have literally watched Liv grow up. She is a very well skilled player who is versed in all aspects of the game. Her demeanor is highly competitive with poise and composure. Of course, coming from a volleyball family, her volleyball IQ is very high.”

Olivia shared about growing up in her volleyball family, “I’ve always been around the game of volleyball all my life, either being in a bouncy chair while my mom coached or watching my two older sisters play. I am so lucky that I was born into a family who is all addicted to this crazy game. The passion for the game is contagious!!

Olivia Burns with her parents on Senior Night

Olivia with her parents on Senior Night

“My mom played ball at Norwin High School, and then played at Clarion University (and coached at many places, all different levels; high school, Juniata Men’s Volleyball, and Clarion University Women, and various club travel teams after that). She was also inducted into the Clarion University Hall of Fame in 2010.

“Both of my older sisters played for Clarion High School for Coach Campbell. Karly, my oldest sister, played at Mercyhurst University and just now completed her first year coaching Mercyhurst Prep up in Erie, and has coached for different clubs in Erie. Ellie, my second oldest sister, played at University of Pittsburgh and is currently coaching for Pittsburgh Elite Volleyball Association.

“Having a family who loves the game just as much as I do is incredible. Getting to learn from my sisters and mom is the best thing in this world.”

In spite of growing up with a vast knowledge of and skill in volleyball, Olivia faced a major roadblock on her path to success. In fact, not long ago, it looked liked her dream might have come to an end.

Olivia said, “I started on the varsity court every game of all four years. Except my sophomore year, I was in a terrible car accident and broke four bones, causing me to miss most of the 2014 season until playoffs, where I came back and started (I’m making this sound a lot better than it was).

(Smith Photography photo) Olivia Burns

(Smith Photography photo) Olivia Burns

“It was heartbreaking, especially after originally being told that I could never play again. I am sure happy to be alive. It was a long journey back (two years later and I sometimes think that I am still not fully healthy).”

Olivia sees her high school teammates and coach as major contributors to her comeback. She said, “But I couldn’t have done it without my fantastic team and Coach Campbell.

“Playing for Coach Campbell is such an honor. She always believed in me being the best player and person I could be. She creates an amazing atmosphere in the gym that almost makes you never want to leave. She is a great coach and I’ve learned so much from her.”

Olivia continued, “I started on the team that had won the 2013-2015 District Championships. I was really hoping for my senior year D9 championship medal, but sometimes the best team loses. I am still so proud what our team went accomplished and went through.”

Olivia also developed her skills playing travel ball. She said, “During the off season, I’ve played for different clubs throughout the years. I started playing travel ball in 7th grade. I played for Pittsburgh Elite Volleyball Association from 7th-10th grade. And most recently played up for a Rennaissance Volleyball Club’s 18s team my junior year that went all the way up to 5th place at Nationals.”

She is looking forward to her playing for her new team also. Olivia said, “This coming Fall, I am looking to play for Indiana University of Pennsylvania. I am so excited for what the future holds for me!”

Olivia (44) in action

Olivia (44) in action

And Coach Pennewill is looking forward to what his new recruit will bring to the Crimson Hawks. He said, “We expect Liv to come in prepared to contribute in any way she can based on our evaluation and the needs of the team when she arrives.

“Because of her versatility, we are going to look for her to develop all parts of her game on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball. Any projection will be up to the athlete and how they adjust to the game at the next level.

“I believe her love and desire for the game will have her prepared and ready when she arrives. The main aspect that I am looking for her to provide is her understanding of the team culture that I am teaching here at IUP. Liv totally understands what I am trying to instill and is a big believer in those types of guiding principles.”

Coach Pennewill also shared his respect for Coach Shari and her outstanding program, here at Clarion Area, as well as Olivia’s club teams. “Shari, I have also known for a long time and she does a great job of taking the talent that a small school population provides and teaching the game to maximize her athletes to succeed.

“A veteran coach like Shari is so important and beneficial in getting the athletes to believe in a program and then have the consistency to produce quality student athletes that play at a high level every year. Anytime you can recruit those types of athletes, who are used to winning and competing in big matches, will help one’s program. I won’t say that this situation applies to my recruitment of Olivia, because of my relationship with her, but it is a major benefit that she has been playing volleyball for some of the best high school and club teams around.”

Coach Pennewill gave insight into what his “mission” with the Crimson Hawks is about, saying, “Next season should be a continuation of what we are instilling currently, teaching the game in a way that returns the game to the players. Emphasizing guided discovery in the learning process and having the athletes be active learners.

“Additionally, we are reinforcing how championship teams behave and how each individual contributes to a championship team culture based on accountability.

“In the end, we are preparing our players for graduating and the ability to gain employment. If we can provide for them the tools to be great team players and teammates, we will set them up for success in life. Because everything we do in our lives is team oriented.”

Sounds like a perfect fit, for Olivia and IUP.

(Olivia it has been a pleasure watching you play throughout your high school career and to see your courage in coming back from devastating injuries, to get where you are today. Wishing you nothing but great success at IUP!!!!!)