Kody Burke: NC State's All Business All-American

  • Name: Kody Burke
  • Age: 22
  • Organization: NC State women's basketball

(Photo courtesy Kody Burke. Burke, pictured fourth from right, honored with others at 2013 NC State Scholar-Athlete Banquet.)

Author: Patrick Kinas, DNAOfSports.com creator.

Motivation can be felt in a myriad of ways. A grandparent’s look. A coach’s talk. A look within.

For this NC State Wolfpack 1st-team Academic All-American, the motivation was felt a decade ago, but it resonated with the sound of one singular letter.

D.

Her motivation both on and off the basketball court can still be traced to the day that grade arrived. The success that followed is as much extraordinary as it is far-reaching.

From the day she set foot on a campus nearly 3,000 miles away from home in southern California, Kody Burke was continuing to write a story that was already years in the making. Trying to carve a path in a foreign atmosphere was one of the regular challenges she had been facing throughout her life.

The past four years have seen a memorable Wolfpack student-athlete flourish beyond even her wildest dreams. Burke grew up as part of a middle-class family of four, living in a modest home in Northridge, CA.

“I’ve always been one of the outcasts,” Burke said. “I was a minority student in a predominately Hispanic community, which inspired me to work even harder in what I do.”

“My goal has always been to get the same respect as the others.”

“Northridge isn’t the richest city,” Burke said. “It’s mostly Hispanic with a handful of African-Americans and white kids. Most people live in apartments.”

So with her mom working in the title business, and her dad as supervisor of truck operations for the city of Los Angeles, Kody and her younger sister Kennedy were taught that effort, work ethic and resolve were the necessary ingredients to succeeding in life.

This was a lesson Burke learned at an early age.

Ms. Kaiser

It was the sixth grade that began to turn the tide for this future Wolfpack player, who three months from graduating holds a GPA of a near-perfect 3.94.

“I got my first D,” Burke said. “It was Ms. (Amber) Kaiser’s World Civilization class. I wasn’t completing my assignments. I just wasn’t interested.”

“When I brought the grade home, there were no more special privileges or basketball. I struggled in middle school. Suddenly, grades motivated me.”

Kody and Ms. Kaiser had another common bond which helped her make the transition.

“Northridge Middle School was predominately a Hispanic school, and Ms. Kaiser was African-American. She pushed me to be my best.”

The following year, Burke started playing basketball. It was another in a long line of astute decisions.

Burke’s transition had begun.

From there, a few years later as her academic and basketball development continued, Burke transferred to the very affluent Sherman Oaks High School.

Cross Country Move

Over the years, NC State women’s basketball has had very few willing to make the three time zone move to Raleigh, and the last who attempted, former blue-chipper Kelly Greathouse, barely lasted a year. Coincidentally, her arrival and departure was around the time Burke was around the time Burke was learning from World Civilization.

But after being recruited by former head coach Kellie Harper from the Golden State, Burke opted to leave her family behind and head to the ACC.

The challenges were steep.

“Not many expected me to come to the ACC,” Burke recalled. “It was hard being so far away from home. Honestly, I thought about leaving. North Carolina was just so different from California. NC State is most diverse area I’ve lived in. I’ve had to push through the majority to excel.”

But Burke had been taught by her parents at an early age that quitting wasn’t acceptable, so Burke toughened up and stayed.

It turned out to be one of the best decisions Burke has made.

“I never thought I would have the basketball career I’ve had. I thought I’d be a role player and maybe start my senior year. When Kellie started me in my first game, I was surprised, but ready for the challenge.”

“I underestimated my ability.”

During this magical 2013-14 season, outside of the new Wolfpack coaching staff and its players, practically all of the nation underestimated this year’s NC State team.

Enjoying its best season in nearly a decade, the Wolfpack have become hands-down, the biggest surprise in the nation.

“I’m so proud that we’re 24-5,” Burke said. “Growing up, things have been mostly about me, and I’ve been concerned about individual stuff. This year has been very special since the team concept is succeeding.”

Burke’s Academics & Future

Kody Burke has had just two Bs in her four years at NC State, both in her accounting classes.

“That’s one of the reasons I switched majors from accounting to business administration two years ago,” Burke joked.

Along with her sorority of basketball teammates and staff, Burke has developed a small, yet strong circle of friends on the business side.

“Poole College of Management is a small college, but we’re all very close,” Burke said.

“Professor Hart (Associate/Finance) and Professor McKittrick (Accounting) have been two of my strongest advocates,” Burke said. “I struggled at times, got a B, and used their office hours during basketball season a lot.”

“Now they come out and watch me play.”

In a perfect world, Burke’s ideal job would be creating and administering athletic budgets for a university. Last summer, Burke took a first step in that direction with an internship under Diane Moose, who is NC State’s CFO.

Meanwhile, the academic accolades continue to pile up for Burke, who was recently named an Academic All-American for the third time in her Wolfpack career, but this time, on the prestigious 1st team.

“It’s an amazing feeling, especially this year making the 1st team along with Chiney Ogwumike (Stanford).”

Burke, a 3rd-team All-American during her sophomore and junior years, is NC State’s second-ever three-time honoree. She has also been a three-time member of the ACC all-academic team.

“With the first All-American award, I didn’t even know what it was about,” Burke said. “I didn’t realize the significance of the recognition at the time.

On top of that, Burke was also feted as one of the ACC’s recipients of the Weaver-James-Corrigan Award, which will give Burke $5,000 toward her post-graduate degree.

Not bad for Burke, who admitted she didn’t even like numbers growing up.

Now, numbers are ruling her life.

Heading into Sunday’s Senior Day against second-ranked and undefeated Notre Dame, Burke is #2 all-time for the Wolfpack in blocked shots (193), 13th in scoring (1,542 points), and 10th in rebounds (801).

About that 3.94 GPA. As Burke walks across the podium to receive her diploma, the perfectionist in her will be thinking the thought with which she opened our interview.

“A couple of A-minuses killed me.”



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