Coming off a two-year hiatus from basketball to attend California Baptist University, Darsha Burnside, junior early childhood studies major and forward/center for the women’s basketball team, has found a university to call home.
Growing up in Pasadena and eventually moving to San Bernardino, Burnside said she tried out for basketball at 12 years old when people at school kept insisting her height would help her.
“I tried out and I tried basketball, but I still wasn’t anything compared to the other girls. When I started playing, I had no clue what I was doing, but as the years went on I just got better and better and better,” Burnside said.
Previously attending San Bernardino Valley College for two years, Burnside decided to give CBU a chance after hearing about the school from one of her coaches.
She said she was hesitant to consider CBU because she thought all private schools made their students wear uniforms, but upon the insistence of her coach who believed CBU would be a great fit for her, she visited the school. After the visit, Burnside discovered she loved the school and decided to take a chance.
Although she spent two years off after already playing at a junior college for two years, her mind was still set on playing for a university team. However, the road to get back in shape and ready for big games took time.
Jarrod Olson, head coach of the women’s basketball team, said Burnside’s two years off caused some rust to build up on her skills.
“At the beginning of the year she was way out of shape, and you could tell she had some physical tools, but she was struggling to put them all together,” Olson said. “As her fitness improved, you started to see some flashes of things she could do on the court. But she didn’t start making a big impact for us until a few games into the season.”
Burnside’s ability to bounce back from a few tough games in the beginning of the season is reflected by how many honors she has been awarded, such as PacWest’s Player of the Week, which she has received three times.
“She’s a really talented player, and you could always see that there was a chance that it would be there,” Olson said. “We were all hoping that she would be able to work hard enough to get there, and she’s done a really good job of that. It’s a long ways to go when you’ve taken that much time off.”
Regardless of the time it has taken her to get to where she is right now, Burnside said she loves her school and her teammates.
“I’m a lot older than them so I look at myself as a mom. We’re all close,” she said.
She said she is looking forward to what the next year holds.