Cierra Burdick gathered eight teacher reccomendations, answered 10 essay questions and endured five interviews.
She was trying out for the “Dream Team” while attending Butler High in Matthews, N.C. These were a different sort of trials for the women’s basketball standout because this was a different sort of team. The 12-person senior squad was based on abstinence, not competition.
“That was the best thing I could’ve ever done,’’ said Burdick, now a junior forward at Tennessee.
Burdick said “Dream” was an acronym for “Daring to role model excellence as an athletic mentor.” She made the team and pledged like the other members to not use drugs, alcohol or tobacco products and be role models for other youths.
“That was the most amazing group of kids,” said Lisa Burdick, Cierra’s mother.
Mindful of her mother’s past battles with substance abuse, Cierra has maintained that pledge as if it was an oath.
“I’ve grown up in that environment,” Cierra said. “To this day, I’ve never taken a sip of alcohol and people find that so shocking.
“I’m in college. People are always going out but they don’t realize when they ask me why I don’t drink. I tell them because alcoholism runs in my family.”
Lisa has buttressed her daughter’s thinking with reminders of the potential peril woven into her DNA.
“She has this huge addict gene just waiting to be triggered,” Lisa said.
Cierra sounds determined not to risk that chance.
“Some people could get away with it,” she said of drinking. “I don’t think I will be able to.”