FAIRFIELD — Perhaps being a Falcon was in the stars all along.
After being on the opposite side of a Falcons’ bench all her athletic career, attending Armijo High and Napa Valley College (rival of Solano Community College), Allana Burnham will finally become a Falcon at Friends University in Wichita, Kansas.
Friends University is in the Division II National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), and have made its national tournament for the past three seasons – making it as far as the second round in 2011-2012.
The Falcons ranked third in the nation in scoring defense (57.2 points), seventh in steals per game (12.1) and 10th in defensive rebounds/game.
If there were such thing as a “perfect fit”, Friends would be the place for Burnham.
Vince Shaw was Burnham’s coach at Napa Valley College and says that athleticism is not the only thing she can bring to her new team.
“Allana can defend all positions,” Shaw said. “She’ll bring some added toughness to Friends. Coach Rae (Anne Boothe) is defensive-minded, like myself, so it is right up her alley. . . . She was very limited offensively out of high school, but that wasn’t her role – she wasn’t asked to score.
“We needed her to score and she found success grabbing offensive rebounds and getting put-backs. She is very active under the basket. As she matures, her game will develop.”
Friends’ leading rebounder averaged 8.4 boards a game, while Burnham gathered 7.6 a game at Napa. She had six double-doubles last season and nine times had more offensive boards than defensive.
Burnham knew of the defensive ways of the Falcons and said that is what attracted her to the midwestern university.
“The coach reminded me of coach Shaw,” Burnham said. “They are all about defense. They run a lot and are conditioned well and believe in fast-paced play.”
Burnham said that Boothe was initially drawn to her because of how athletic she was, her post game and how dedicated she was.
Scoring is the least of Burnham worries, though, saying her favorite thing to do it keep other people from scoring.
It was apparent how much coach Boothe wanted her because out of the two recruits a year that Friends can fly in to visit the campus, she was one of them.
Burnham said the campus was beautiful and had a good science program, where she will work on her degree in Kinesiology.
Coach Shaw was very pleased to have a student like Burnham get this opportunity.
“I can’t stress enough how excellent a student she is in the classroom,” Shaw said. “She has been a model of what athletes should be at Napa. She is leaving a legacy. She was all-conference two years in a row and helped us to our first winning season in at least 10 years.”
Shaw also noted Burnham was the first player to commit to Napa with him as the head coach and it is special to him to see her go on to a four-year school.
Burnham said she is also excited for the opportunity, but said it will be hard when it comes time to leave because she is “really close” with her family and friends.
“Once I get there and become settled in and become friends with my new teammates, I’ll feel more at home,” she said. “My family told me they have no problems flying out here when I need them, though.”
Burnham had a hand in Armijo winning two consecutive Monticello Empire League titles and as far as becoming a Falcon for the first time she said, “It will take a minute to get used to.”