March 17, 2013

For Rachele Burns, a point of no return

Rachele Burns, who played at Gorham High and UMaine, came back from four knee surgeries, and while she might wonder what might have been, nobody can question her determination.

By Mike Lowe
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 2)

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Her playing career over after multiple knee injuries, Rachele Burns spent this season as a student assistant for the Black Bears.

Courtesy of the University of Maine

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Burns plays for Gorham High in a 1-0 win over Bangor for the Class A soccer state title in 2005.

Telegram file photos

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Blodgett talked about Burns becoming a student assistant in her junior year. But Blodgett was relieved of her position after the season.

In came Richard Barron as the new coach, and he gave Burns the chance to play. She got into eight games, scoring nine points.

Her mother, Lisa, was in the stands for the last game her daughter would play, on Feb. 22, 2012, at New Hampshire.

"It's been hard for me, as a parent, to watch her go through this," she said. "But, throughout it all, I'm amazed and proud that she kept such a positive attitude."


After the 2011-12 season, Barron and Burns had the same conversation she had the previous year with Blodgett. This time, she agreed to stop playing. Barron kept her on the roster -- thereby maintaining her scholarship -- and she became a student assistant.

Before home games, she helped set up the video cameras, then kept stats on the bench. On the road, she filmed the game. She then made sure all the coaches had copies of the videos. She helped out in any way she could, sometimes participating in drills.

Still, she said, the transition from player to student assistant was tough.

"Honestly, I miss (playing) every day," she said. "It was such a big part of my life."

Asked why she didn't walk away years earlier, Burns said that was never an option.

"I don't like giving up on anything," she said. "No matter how hard it was, I'm not a quitter. I always wanted to play Division I ball.

"It's funny. Last year we had a gathering at Coach Barron's house where we all shared our stories. Someone asked me why I kept playing. I didn't want to quit. At least I could say I went out and tried."

Everyone, she said, faces adversity. "It's how you get through it, how you cope, that matters," she said.

Ryan Taylor, a trainer at Maine for the last seven years, said he has seen people come back from two knee surgeries, but never three or more. He said many players recovering are often beat up "physically and emotionally."

Burns, he added, wasn't like that.

"She was a go-getter," he said. "She played so hard. She was a tough person. Most people would have been timid in her situation. Not her."

Burns, who will graduate in 2014, hopes to coach basketball some day. Her experience this year will certainly help.

"Do I wish that none of my knee injuries happened? Absolutely," she said. "I would have loved to continue playing and make a difference, if possible. But the opportunity Coach Barron gave me to stay on and work with the team was incredible.

"He knows a ton of people. This is a great staff to work with. I'm glad I had this opportunity."

Still, said those who knew her when she was healthy, it's a shame her career played out as it did.

"When you talk about a kid who deserved better, that's her," said Berthiaume. "She didn't get that good by accident."

Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at:

Twitter: MikeLowePPH


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Additional Photos

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Burns drives to the basket as Gorham plays in the Western Class A tourney in 2007.

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In April 2008, Burns was rehabbing from a knee injury suffered in basketball season.


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