A Kid Grows Up In Boston

by Joy Kamani
Boston, March 12: Beginning in just a few hours, over 2500 athletes will converge on this historic city to vie for the unofficial title, NIKE NATIONAL INDOOR CHAMPION. (Due to rules of the National Federation of High School Athletics, no meet is permitted to use the phrase "National High School Champion." That phrase has been copyrighted by the Federation.)

Those athletes hail from 42 states, the District of Columbia, Bermuda and Canada with New York sending 578 competitors followed by Massachusetts with 340. Seven states are sending only one entrant. A young high jumper from Minnesota, SHAINA BURNS, is one of them. She's only 13 years old and a seventh grader. I wondered why would a youngster so young travel all the way to Boston for a track meet? An email was sent to her Mom asking that question.

Mom answered, also via email, "Nike is all about finding a fantastic level of competition for Shaina. Just looking at the entry list is mesmerizing and to be a part of it is exactly what she is looking for." It helps she's 5-11! But indoor track is not a big sport in the Land of a Thousand Lakes. Mom went on, "Last year Shaina discovered there were indoor track meets. But nowhere near us." But competition must be preceded by preparation and where could Mom and Shaina work out? So, twice a week they drove an hour and twenty minutes to a facility where she could practice. From what I've been told, it snows in Minnesota, it snows a LOT in Minnesota but the duo braved the snow, ice, wind and anything else Mother Nature could throw at them so the daughter could work out. In addition to the high jump, her specialty, she also long jumps and runs the hurdles.

Now that a practice site had been found, where to compete? In the winter "The nearest high school meet was in Kansas! We traveled to Ohio and Illinois for AAU meets where she could compete against her peers. She won seven gold medals and also broke the NATIONAL AAU Indoor pentathlon record!" But Shaina found there was a lack of competition. So, she aimed high…about as high as she could go, the NIKE INDOOR NATIONALS. Mom continued, "She is still out looking for some stiff competition and the NIKE meet is the place to get it."

Mom, also known as Luonna Burns, has a sense of humor, something necessary in the long drives and ensuing waits for her daughter to work out. She finished her missive as follows, "She (Shaina) is pretty easy to spot as she is a 5-11 blonde. What did you expect from MN?" Give this kid a few years and Lisa Bernhagen's 6-3 hsr will depart Idaho and head to MN. Remember the name, SHAINA BURNS.

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