Chris Burt Signs Letter of Intent

Swartz Creek athletes Nichole Casler, Chris Burt sign college scholarships

, June 07, 2010 1:57 p.m.

Over the past few years, Swartz Creek athletes have had the chance to see other fellow athletes sign letters of intent to go to play the sport of their choice at college.

In the past, one or maybe two athletes were able to move on to the next level. But in the span of two weeks, three Dragons have put their futures in writing by signing to play in college. The latest of the signees are Nichole Casler, who will play soccer for the University of Wisconsin-Superior, and Chris Burt, who joins the Mott Community College volleyball team.

Casler is the second soccer player from Swartz Creek who has signed to play, following Chloe Maxwell's lead two weeks ago. Casler has been an influential force on the Dragons' defense. She started out as a stopper as a freshman and has moved back and forth between midfield and stopper ever since. Her chance to show her stuff at the college level is something she's looked forward to for a long time.

"I'm super excited but a little nervous because I'm jumping onto a new team and new teammates," Casler said. "I love this sport and I'll be fine, but it's going to be a big change to go from my position here to the low man."

Casler decided on Wisconsin back in December and was excited to send coach Melissa Nelmark an e-mail saying that she'd made her decision. Nelmark was equally excited to get that message and immediately began putting things in motion to make Casler's entry onto the team an easy one.

"We're in the process of building the program and Nichole will fit right in to that," Nelmark said. "She's got a lot of positive energy and spirit and she already fit in quite well when she came to visit."

Being able to make a choice and have her future set made Casler's last semester of school a lot easier. Instead of worrying about trying to impress coaches and sending out videos throughout the spring, Casler has been able to focus on schoolwork and giving her all for the Dragons.

"She's been through the lows and highs on this team," said Swartz Creek coach Steve Hockin. "She's a great kid and she's got a good future."

Casler has a cumulative GPA of 3.84, but has really focused on her studies this year and as a senior had a 3.96 GPA. Her goals as a freshman at Wisconsin include playing as much as possible and playing up to her potential. If she can get in and make an impact early, she believes she'll be a hard player to beat.

"I wanted to go to a place where I could contribute," Casler added. "I'm going to have fun there, I just need to get in and be myself."

Many thought Burt would pursue a softball scholarship, but when Mott showed interest in her as a volleyball player, she knew the opportunity was too good to pass up, especially since her family and friends were going to be able to come to as many home games as possible.

Chris Burt

"I've been playing sports since I was 5 and I've always had my family behind me," Burt said. "It's going to be great to have them in the stands when I'm playing college volleyball."

Burt's mother has been her biggest supporter throughout her high school career.

"We've always been behind our kids and we're so proud of Chris," said her mother. "She's got a drive that you can't teach your kids. When we got the call that they wanted to meet, we were just floored. I wouldn't miss a game for the world. They play in Maine and Maryland and we're going to go there to watch."

Making the decision to go to Mott was easy for Burt because she still isn't sure what she wants to do for a career.

"Our goal is to make her a strong side hitter and we want her to be able to start," said Mott coach Bob Halbedel. "She is very intense and she's very athletic. We see a lot of potential in her."

Being able to step onto a team and directly into a starting role has been key to Burt's success.

For former Swartz Creek coach Kelli Pierscinski, Burt's being able to do that again is something that she has no doubts about.

"She's a go-getter and I remember saying ‘she's mine' the first time I saw her at a high school workout," said Pierscinski. "She's a special person and has great qualities and character. She's going to be playing with players of her own caliber now and I think we've only seen a little of what Chris Burt can do."

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