Burke balances Barrett and basketball

Barrett Honors College; ASU; Joy Burke; Basketball; Sun Devils

Junior center Joy Burke balances a basketball and textbooks in both arms outside of Barrett, The Honors College dorms. Burke has been competing hard on the court and classroom all season. (Photo by Molly J. Smith)

Joy Burke has never been one to take the easy way out.

While the juinor center of the Sun Devil women’s basketball team goes through daily practices, road trips and 30-plus game seasons, she manages to balance the rigors that comes with studying at Barrett, The Honors College.

The challenges she faces are intended. Joy enjoys responsibilities that require her to work hard. With everything on her plate, she makes sure to find that needed balance.

Joy learned to excel from her parents, Steve and Minghui Burke. While most kids would take the summer off from school, Joy and her brother, Timothy James, would get workbooks for the summer.

“We kind of instilled it in them that they have to work hard academically. We never had to help them with homework,” Steve said. “Both our kids were pretty self-motivated to work hard academically.”

Joy’s major in business marketing was more of an accident than a choice.

When first applying to ASU, she clicked a drop-down menu for majors and hastily chose Business Marketing. She said she didn’t think know she could scroll down for “undecided.” Fortunately though, it hasn’t come back to haunt her.

“I thought, ‘maybe business would be good for me. Why not? Let’s try this out,’” Joy said. “I’m glad I stuck with it. I love the business school and marketing.”

Joy is currently working on her honors thesis for Barrett, something all ASU honors students must complete before graduation.

This extra workload is no accident.

“I think I’ve always just been somebody who’s wanted to be the best at something. I don’t like doing something and then not giving everything I have into it,” she said. “I love to challenge myself. If I don’t ever challenge myself and don’t try, I’ll never know what I can do. Being in Barrett, The Honors College is a great way to separate myself.”

As hard as her academics may get, she admits playing basketball for ASU is more difficult.

“I would say school is something that comes more naturally for me. They’re challenging in different ways, but I’ve been challenged the most with basketball,” she said. “Being involved in athletics, you give so much everyday.”

Beginning in mid-November, the ASU women’s basketball team has already played 16 games. They are 10-6 and 2-2 in the Pac-12.

In conference, she places in the top 20 in rebounding averaging 6.25 boards a game and in the top 10 in blocked shots with 1.44 per game. Joy is one of three team captains.

Barrett Honors College; ASU; Joy Burke; Basketball; Sun Devils; Wells Fargo

Joy Burke posts up against an Oregon defender on Jan. 11. With her loaded schedule, Burke is usually posted up at practice or studying. (Photo by Molly J. Smith)

Though hardly playing at all last season due to a injury, she’s now an integral part of the Sun Devils’ success.

“Joy has an immense heart and spirit,” coach Charli Turner Thorne said. “She has brought great leadership and great play to our team. She’s doing the things her coaches and her teammates expect her to do, and her mindset has grown so much.”

Conference games end on Mar. 3. Between now and then, she will play 14 more games. During one week Burke will have approximately two games a week, four to five days of practice, weight lifting and rehab treatments.

As time consuming as her school and her sport are, she finds it a priority to give each the proper amount of attention.

“As far as balancing it, the first few years was hard to have any time of social life,” Joy said. “Balance is a big thing for me. I need to be able to give everything I have in basketball and school and learn to take care of myself, too, and when I need to kind of refresh in a way.”

In the future Joy wants to put both her business marketing skills as well as her athletic knowledge to great use. She said one day she would like to be a sports life coach.

“It’s about, ‘How do I be better as a person? How do I enjoy life? What do I even want?’” Joy said. “I think being able to figure those things out, it’s just helping me stay happy and stay in the moment and be more impactful to people around me as well.”

Although Joy said she doesn’t know what exactly is in store for her future, the rigor she must deal with on a daily basis now is going to pay off for her.

Reach the reporter gdemano@asu.edu