Burdt step away from her dream

January 20, 1995|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,Sun Staff Writer

For five years, Tricia Burdt steadily has climbed the ladder as one of the country's most promising young field hockey players.

Now, she is just one rung from the top.

Last weekend, Burdt landed a spot on the United States Field Hockey Association's national training squad. That makes her one of the top 24 players in the country.

"Tricia is basically so talented and she's physically ready to compete with the top team," said Missy Meharge, assistant coach of the national team and head coach at Maryland where Burdt is a sophomore.

"A lot comes down to individual perseverance. It's different than playing college hockey, but she is better than college hockey. This is a really neat opportunity for her."

The 19-year-old Mount Airy resident heads to San Diego today for two weeks of training followed by a trip to Australia.

In addition to a series of games against top club teams, the U.S. team will play the Australian national team, gold medalists at last July's World Cup in which the United States finished third.

After that, coaches will choose 16 players for the team to compete at the Pan American Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in March. If Burdt does not make the cut, she will join the national under-21 team for its spring tour of Spain.

Going into the year-end camp at Rutgers, from which the national teams are selected annually, Burdt aimed only to retain her spot on the under-21 team. She was surprised to be included in the top 24.

"It means I have a future with the U.S. team," said Burdt, one of the youngest players on the training squad.

"I think they're trying to groom a group of us for the future national team. This is an opportunity for us to see what international competition is really like and get us playing toward that level."

Ever since she began playing in the USFHA's Olympic-development style Futures Program as a sophomore at St. Paul's School for Girls, Burdt has moved steadily upward. The Baltimore Sun All-Metro Player of the Year in 1992, she spent a year on the regional under-15 team and two years on the regional under-18 team before being selected to the national under-21 team last year.

At Maryland, Burdt saw plenty of playing time in her freshman season as the Terrapins won the national title. Last fall, she moved into the starting lineup playing well everywhere from forward line to sweeper.

"I wasn't surprised at how quickly she came on this year," said Meharge. "Tricia made everything she went after very early on. When she came to Maryland, not being a big fish in the pond might have been a shock for her. This year, she played like a junior or senior. She was very focused, very competitive and she was basically our go-to person."

Now Burdt has only one more move to make -- to make the elite 16. If she can do that in the next year, she could achieve her ultimate dream four years ahead of schedule.

"You have to make the top 16 to make the Olympic team," said Burdt. "I'm going to work for it and train hard for it, but I'm probably four or five players away from it. If I don't make it for '96, I'll definitely work hard for 2000."

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