Caleb Nelson: For Burmeisters of JCC, aiming high pays off
JACKSON — Jackson County Central junior Kaylee Burmeister likely doesn’t have a problem enjoying playing basketball and volleyball for the Huskies. It’s in her blood.
The forward cemented herself further into her family’s history recently on the basketball court. In a loss to Fairmont in the Section 3AA tournament, Burmeister became the third and final sibling of her family to score 1,000 points. Kaylee’s older sister Leah, another JCC graduate, is not far behind, with 930 points.
All four sisters are among their school’s top six all-time scorers. In 131 games played, Whitney Burmeister, a 2012 JCC graduate, became her school’s all-time leading scorer with 1,841 career points. Brooke Burmeister, a 2009 graduate, finished with 1,400 points on 107 games.
This is a pretty impressive family tree the Burmeisters have. Back in Atlantic, Iowa, where I came from, Harlan was my high school’s rival. It actually wasn’t much of a rivalry because they always won. But they had these huge families that made huge impacts on the school’s athletic achievements, much like the Burmeisters of JCC, the Boevers of Worthington, the Wendorffs of Windom or the Schillings of Ellsworth have here in southwest Minnesota.
Some may think that growing up with such accomplished sisters would be a lot of pressure to live up to, but Kaylee Burmeister told me in a phone call Tuesday afternoon that it wasn’t so bad.
“They were there to help me and to make me better,” Kaylee said of her three talented sisters. “They were great role models and I always have wanted to break their records. They’ve always been there to support me and help me get better.”
In the Huskies’ game with Fairmont on March 3, Burmeister reached her milestone in the second half. The Huskies trailed by 10 points at halftime. Jittery in the first half, Burmeister settled down after halftime and eclipsed 1,000 points by four points, vaulting her to fourth-place on her school’s all-time scoring list.
“I was tense,” Burmeister said of the first half of that game. “I was ecstatic and excited.”
Burmeister is quick to deflect much of the credit for her success to mentor Nate Benson, an individual who spends one-on-one time with athletes at JCC, helping them refine their shooting skills. They call him the shot doctor.
As a former assistant coach at Jackson County Central, Jon Beckman coached three of the four Burmeisters in basketball and can attest to the work ethic of all four of the Burmeister girls.
“Kaylee is a great kid and deserves much credit. I am very proud to have coached her,” Beckman said. “I missed out on coaching Leah, but it was a privilege to coach the other three. Kaylee was always looking up to the success her sisters had playing basketball.
“She would shoot after almost every practice for an extra 30-40 minutes,” Beckman added. “Even throughout the summer, she worked on form, ball rotation, arch, free throws and just about anything to do with shooting.”
While the Huskies had an up and down season this winter, finishing with a 9-17 record, Burmeister’s efforts led the team with 17.3 points per game. She also, according to her coaches, collected around eight rebounds per game.
With another year ahead of her in high school, Burmeister doesn’t know where she’ll take her next steps. She hopes to possibly play basketball or volleyball at a Division III school somewhere.
When I asked her of hopes for next year and beyond, Burmeister just wants to enjoy herself and see where her teams can go from here.
“You just have to play your hardest because you never know when it’ll be your last time,” she said of her senior year coming up. “You just have to work your hardest, work your heart out and do your best.”