Athlete of the Week: Madison Burke

Madison Burke (front middle) is a captain on the rowing team.

While she may seem like just a regular student while editing The Villanovan or creating funny memes, junior rower Maddie Burke is anything but.

Nicknamed “Baddie Murke” by friends, the Pleasanton California native is a key member and captain of the rowing team, leading them to a first place finish at last weekend’s George Mason Invitational. Her boat, the second varsity 8, beat Jacksonville by less than a second, finishing in 6:47.8. This was a slight improvement over the week before, as a time of 6:49.4 was only good enough for a second place finish in the Kerr Cup.

Although it may seem like Burke was born for the boat, her journey to the rowing team was anything but straightforward. Burke comes from a family of athletes, as her older brothers Sean and Colin were both collegiate distance runners in track & field and cross country, at Boston College and UCLA, respectively.

“I started running cross country and track in high school then decided it wasn’t for me and I needed a new sport,” Burke said. “I’d done every other sport growing up so I thought what the hell, let’s try a new one, and here we are.”

Recruited out of high school, Burke decided to make the trip cross country to Villanova, Pennsylvania for college. Despite being a five hour plane ride from the West Coast, Burke found a new home on the Main Line. 

Burke jumped right onto the water upon arriving at college, competing eight times in her freshman year as part of the varsity four and second varsity eight. She experienced success right off the bat, helping the varsity four boat to a third place finish at the CAA Championship and fourth in the Grand Final at the George Mason Invitational. Burke also helped the second varsity eight squad finish in second place at the Rollins Invitational and against St. Joe’s and Delaware. 

As a sophomore, she was part of the varsity four stroke lineup, which came in 20th out of 48th teams at the Head of the Schuylkill. Burke also was a member of the second varsity eight who finished in second place against UCF and Duquesne at the Metro Cup Regatta.  

Off the water, Burke studies Communication, specializing in Public Relations and Advertising. She excels in her extracurricular activities as well, as she is The Villanovan’s own Associate Editor-in-Chief.

Juggling school and sports is always impressive, especially with the early morning practices that rowing in particular requires. When asked how she’s survived three years of early alarms and short nights, Burke credits “Naps on naps on naps.” 

Next weekend, Burke and the rowing team will compete in the Bergen Cup, before competing in the CAA Championships in mid-May.

Referring to the upcoming tournament, Burke explained that the meet was expected to be against Bucknell, however the team has been quarantined and will not compete. She went on to explain that the University of Connecticut Huskies will be the team to beat.

“I think the conference this year will be tough...UConn is typically quite good but with all this COVID stuff teams are so confusing!”

Burke is confident that Villanova will make a good showing in the tournament.