I tweeted out the news that Panas’ Brigitte Burcescu was named the Con Edison Scholar Athlete of the Week, but because of the Clarkstown South tournament I couldn’t get around to posting the story. Here’s the feature from my colleague Jermaine Dennis:
Panas volleyball star Brigitte Burcescu believes no one is born a natural leader and that, to become one, an individual must go through a learning process to fully grasp what it takes.
This week’s Con Edison Scholar Athlete’s learning curve came during her sophomore year when her older sister, Vivian, was the captain. Watching her sister lead the Panthers for an entire season helped Brigitte understand how to be the captain at the helm.
“Me becoming a leader definitely comes from watching my older sister play,” Brigitte said. “When she played everyone respected her because she gave it her all.”
During that season, Vivian dominated the section with her athletic ability. Before leaving Panas to play Division I volleyball at University of Virginia, Vivian left her mark on the school. She set multiple records at the school, including most kills in a single match by a Panther and the all-time kill leader in Panas history.
Since then, Brigitte tried everything in her power to assume the leadership mantle her sister left behind. Now, in her senior year, it seems she has it all figured out.
“Last year, during timeouts, I would try to give the girls some motivation in a tight match and she wouldn’t say much to the squad after we broke the huddle. … She was kind of a quiet leader then,” Panas coach Joe Felipe said about Burcescu’s leadership development. “But now she is way more vocal and has learned how to step into the leadership role with more confidence.”
On top of replacing her sister as the Panthers leader, Brigitte has also made great strides to catching up to her sister’s records. Last year in a match against Arlington, Brigitte eclipsed her sister’s record of most kills in a game with 36.
More recently, the Northeastern-bound athlete surpassed her own single match kills record against Yorktown with 39. As of now, Brigitte is 103 kills away from reaching her sister’s all-time mark of 1,051. But even after having so much success on the court, Burcescu remains a modest leader.
“I think she is one of the most humble individuals you can ever meet,” Felipe said. “When she passed her own kill record against Yorktown this season, we lost the match. When I told what she had done, she said to me, ‘Who cares about breaking a record, we lost.’ ”
Even her eighth grade varsity teammate and sister, Yvette, marvels at her sister’s ability to keep the team motivated in close matches.
“If we are not winning, she will cheer us up,” Yvette said about her sister veteran leadership. “If we mess up, she never gets mad at us. … She’s always reassuring us we can do better.”
Name: Brigitte Burcescu
School: Walter Panas
Other sport: None
Likes: Traveling, shopping, and Chitpotle.
Dislikes: Unmotivated people, brussels sprouts, and dishonesty.
Future plans: Play volleyball at Northeastern.