WARREN — There’s always a goal and a plan for Faith Burch.
The Warren G. Harding senior came to that realization long ago, well before the COVID-19 pandemic forced the postponement of the start of the winter high school athletic seasons.
“I’m going to keep working, not only for myself but for my teammates,” Burch said. “I owe that to them and we owe that to each other because we’re expecting a big season.”
Burch is going to approach the girls basketball season with the same gusto she always has approached her high school career — with that eye for the future.
The 6-foot-1 wing/post player signed last month to play at Cleveland State University.
“She deserves this and has been working extremely hard for the past three or four years now,” Harding coach Frank Caputo said. “We’ve had many great athletes who have worked very hard, but she stands out in a different way. She wanted to work at her weaknesses, not strengthen her strengths. She had an eye on her future at a young age.
“Her freshman year, she was a post and then she began working on ballhandling, extending her shot and extending her perimeter defense. Last year that hard work really showed up on the court because she could play the (Nos.) 3 and 4 with ease. She’s also become a more vocal leader.”
Burch averaged 15.8 points and 15.0 rebounds last season when the Raiders lost to Stow-Munroe Falls 44-32 in a Division I district final to finish 22-3.
Caputo said she should become the first Raiders player to accumulate 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds in a career since 2010 graduate Anita Brown.
“She’s about 180 points and 200 rebounds shy of 1,000,” he said.
Burch recalls the conversation she had with her parents during her sophomore campaign.
“I fit in well as a freshman because I was big and strong and could score and defend on the blocks,” she said. “But I knew I had hit my growth spurt and may not get any taller. My dad and coaches told me I needed to improve all other areas of my game, so I took it to heart and went after it. I didn’t fight it. I wanted to shoot from distance, work on ball-handling and one-on-one moves.”
Burch is excited about the coming new challenges and feels she has a good start on things.
“I think I’ll transition well to college academically because I’m already taking college courses on line with (College Credit Plus),” she said. “Those credits will transfer. I also think I will fit in well athletically because of my competitiveness and aggressiveness, although time-management is a bit of a concern until I can get into a routine.”
Burch, who plans to study in psychology and criminology, said she felt like she had an instant rapport with the Cleveland State coaching staff and players, and she likes the fast pace the Vikings utilize.
“I like so many things about Cleveland State and one of the big ones is that it’s a strong program and only 55 minutes away, so my family can support me and I can get back home pretty often,” she said. “I’m a family-oriented person and I still want to be able to help people in my hometown community.”
Burch has a 21-year-old brother, Elijah, playing football at Mount Union, and has another brother in fifth grade.
The only thing that made Burch nervous about signing day was that her father made her give a speech on Facebook Live because the signing ceremony was limited due to COVID restrictions.
“I really didn’t want to have to do that speech, but it ended up OK,” she said.
Now, she and the Raiders are hoping this season will give them the opportunity to conclude unfinished business.
“We kind of had that sour taste with the way things finished last year,” she said. “We’ve got four starters back, but we’re a lot smaller overall and we plan to lean on our defense, aggressiveness and rebounding to start us offensively.”
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