Talk to freshman women’s soccer player Sydni Burrup about her family and you may think the B in BYU stands for Burrup, not Brigham.
The standout freshman’s parents attended Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, and four of her aunts and uncles attended BYU-I in Rexburg, Idaho. Her brother is also enrolled at BYU and is currently serving his mission required by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, more commonly referred to as the Mormon church.
Despite the distance from Spokane to Burrup’s hometown of Corrales, New Mexico, and the fact that BYU is Gonzaga’s most bitter rival, Burrup arrived at GU this summer sporting dark blue and red, not the white and blue synonymous with the Cougars of BYU.
Like many athletes, Burrup had to roll with the punches of college recruiting.
“My first choice was actually BYU,” Burrup said. “Growing up I wanted to go play soccer for BYU but I was super late in my recruiting process. They had already filled my class for BYU so that wasn’t even an opportunity for me.”
After this recruiting snafu, Burrup expanded her search to all of the West Coast, including the Inland Northwest. Burrup zeroed in on Boise State University and other California schools to fulfill her dreams of playing college soccer. Burrup wanted to stay relatively close to her home in New Mexico and Boise State was the farthest school before she found out about GU.
It was Burrup’s high school English teacher who turned her on to the idea of playing for GU.
“I had no idea how outstanding GU was until my mom got a call from my 11th grade English teacher, Ms. Eastin, who talked to my mom for an hour about how everything at GU is superb,” Burrup said.
Burrup’s teacher had a niece who was a senior on the soccer team at the time, Isabelle Jones. Eastin’s rave reviews gave the star high school striker a new goal to aim at.
Burrup visited Spokane in the middle of winter for an ID recruiting camp and was shaken by the stark contrast in temperature to New Mexico. In spite of the cold, Burrup warmed up to GU quickly.
“I loved the ID camp,” Burrup said. “The coaching staff and the players were super fun and amazing so I didn’t even care about the coldness, I just loved it here,” After that ID camp, that’s when I knew that was the school for me.”
Besides the rising national profile of the GU women’s soccer team and her positive visit, Burrup was sold on her choice because of the coaching staff. Burrup is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and identifies as a Mormon. Coach Watkins and Coach Josh Patino are also members of the church and have connected with Burrup off the pitch due to their faith backgrounds.
“That was a big decision in why I chose GU was the coaches. I am a member of LDS and so are my coaches. That was something super big to me was a community of the same faith that surrounded me,” Burrup said. “That made me want to come up here even more.”
For Watkins and the coaching staff, Burrup was a can’t-miss recruit who could rack up goals and assists.
“Syd has great speed and loves to go at defenders 1 v. 1,” Watkins said via email. “She has proven to be a big-time scorer in Club and High school, something we really look for in recruits. Not only have Burrup’s skills translated to success in practice, her personality has been contagious. “She has an electric personality, always smiling and having a great time. Her teammates love to be around her, she’s usually the first one to start dancing in our warm-ups,” Watkins said.
Burrup admits that it was a little odd that she was going to attend a Jesuit school, but after being on campus for nearly a whole semester, her doubts have been silenced.
“That was one thing I was a little bit skeptical about but in the end it’s been amazing,” Burrup said.
Burrup has found friends of other faiths on campus and participates in Bible studies on Sunday with her roommate and fellow freshman soccer player Isabelle Moultray.
“I was still reaching out to other schools and showing interest in other schools at that time,” Burrup said about the spring following her ID camp visit.
As her senior season approached, Burrup wanted to commit to a school. Her parents decided she would visit GU one more time on an official visit to see if it truly was the right fit.
On her visit that summer Burrup met her future teammates and went to classes with them in a much warmer environment.
“I went to go get ice cream later that night and these people were talking to me and telling me how amazing GU is and how I would be a good fit if I decided to come,” Burrup said. “That night was when I knew I wanted to be here.”
Burrup stepped onto GU as a student-athlete for the first time this past summer in a much balmier environment than when she first set foot on campus. Burrup said that due to the COVID-19 restrictions put in place, the team can focus more on specific skills like 1 v. 1 drills and shot blocking than it would’ve in previous seasons.
As the women’s soccer season got pushed to the spring, Burrup’s most anticipated matchup will have to wait for a few more months.
“I cannot wait to play (BYU),” Burrup said. “That’s the one game I really want to play in and do well and beat them. That’s one of the major things I want to check off my list is to beat them.”
For now, Burrup and her teammates are doggedly training for their much anticipated season. Although Burrup isn’t sure how playing time will shake out, she’s ready to start filling up the W column.
“I’m not really sure where I’m at right now (on the roster) but I just hope to win,” Burrup said. “I want to prove that all of our hard work as a team has led to us winning. That’s my biggest expectation.”