Something was missing.
After Meaghan Burns graduated from Worcester State, there was a hole where her time as a women's basketball student-athlete once filled.
It didn't take her long to find some new hobbies to take the place of the sport she loved since early childhood.
Burns began her basketball career in third grade and worked her way through the sport in grade school, playing AAU and at Quaboag Regional High School. During her four years on the Cougars basketball team, they amassed an impressive 91-11 record with two State Finalist and two State Semi-Finalist accolades. It was during that time, she contemplated her academic and playing future with Worcester State in mind.
"I started approaching Coach Karen Tessmer when I was in high school," Burns said. "They stayed in touch with me until I decided to go there. It was close to home so my family could watch me. The nursing program was another part that drew me there. It was both nursing and basketball that drew me there."
Burns continued her personal success as a member of the Lancers women's basketball team. She earned MASCAC All-Conference accolades in 2013 and 2014 while also earning a spot on the New England Women's Basketball Association Senior Classic team in 2014. She etched her name in the Worcester State record books too. She is tied for the most steals in a game with 10 and best single-game free throw percentage with a perfect 8-for-8 and the second most career free throws made with 280.
Attending Worcester State wasn't all about basketball however. She had a desire early on to become a nurse. Knowing her strengths weren't in business or accounting, she followed in her grandmother's footsteps and earned her nursing degree. She finished college with a 3.82 GPA and earned CoSIDA Division III Academic All-District Honors her senior season.
As she transitioned after graduation into her new career as a nurse for the Emergency Department of UMass Memorial Health Care, she couldn't help but feel like something was missing. That was when a college vision became a reality.
"While I was in college, I began thinking of the Army Reserves," Burns said. "Right after graduation, I began working in the ER right away. That kept me busy for a year. I felt something was missing. I had a huge void without basketball and missed it a lot especially when basketball season came around. I missed working as a team, the sense of family and working towards something greater than me. I always liked the idea of the Army."
Burns is a member of the 399 Combat Support Hospital Bravo Company out of Taunton, Mass.. When she first enlisted, she was a Second Lieutenant before being promoted to First Lieutenant recently. She drills with them once a month and spent a month in San Antonio for a basic officer leader course.
If being a full-time nurse and member of the Army Reserves wasn't enough, Burns was still looking for ways to occupy her time after college. She participated in the Pan Mass Challenge that benefits the Dana Farber Institute in 2015 and 2016 but only completed half the race. In 2017, she rode the full 192 miles from Sturbridge to Provincetown in two days. She raised 9,600 dollars over two years for Dana Farber.
Even though Burns may have found some new hobbies to keep her occupied, she couldn't stay away from Worcester State women's basketball for long. Her niece, Britt Herring, is currently a member of the team. With Burns at 25 and Herring at 20, the two have a special bond that transcends the game.
"We grew up near each other," Burns said. "We were super close growing up and playing basketball. I have watched her play in high school and now in college. It has been great getting to watch her develop and grow as a person. Britt saw the great experience I had at Worcester State and I helped persuade her a little to attend Worcester State, but she saw how great a school it is."
Having graduated only a few years ago, the memories she made as a student-athlete are as vivid as if they were yesterday. Some of her favorites involve trips the women's basketball team took during winter break.
Her freshman year, it was Texas, sophomore year Hawaii, junior year California and senior year Costa Rica. On all those trips, Coach Tessmer would find something for them to do in the community. In Hawaii, they went to a local school and helped clean up graffiti. In Costa Rica, they put on free basketball clinics for local kids.
With all those memories fresh in her mind, Burns has some simple and sound advice for student-athletes today.
"Enjoy every little moment," Burns said. "Be there and be in it. It goes by so much quicker than you think so give 100 percent in everything you can because you can't go back once it is over."
Release written by Emily Loux | MASCAC Director of Media Relations