by Emily Schwartz, Sports Section Editor
photo illustration by Emily Zhang
South basketball all-time leading scorer, with 1,817 points to her name. Two-year captain of the girls basketball team. Lead South to a ‘17 – ‘18 season record of 22-2 and a Division 1 South final appearance. Member of the Boston Globe’s All-Scholastic Super Team, Boston Herald’s All-Scholastic Dream Team and USA Today’s All-USA Massachusetts Girls Basketball first team. Four-time DCL MVP. Averaged over 20 points per game in her senior season. Veronica Burton, ‘18 graduate, is one of the greatest athletes South has ever seen.
Now playing Division 1 basketball at Northwestern University, Burton continues to impress. A sophomore, Burton is both the starting point guard and captain. This winter, she led the Wildcats to a Big Ten title, their first conference championship in 30 years. Finishing with a record of 26-3, Northwestern also earned a spot in the 2020 NCAA women’s basketball tournament, which was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This season, Burton led the Big Ten in steals and won Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, only the second player in Northwestern women’s basketball history to win the honor. Also named a member of the Big Ten All-Defensive Team, Burton is making a name for herself in college basketball, although she said she was initially nervous.
“I really had to prove myself in college because no one really cares about what you did in high school,” Burton said. “Everyone was having success in high school.”
The youngest of four children, Burton has three siblings who all played or are playing Division 1 college sports. Her brother plays college football, and both of her older sisters, ‘11 and ‘13 South graduates, also reached the 1,000-point milestone at South and went on to play basketball in college.
Her parents and grandfather were also athletes at Northwestern, where her father played football and her mother was an All-American and Big Ten champion swimmer. After college, her grandfather played running back for the Patriots and her father became a sports anchor for WBZ-TV.
Despite growing up in an uber-athletic family, Burton said she never felt any pressure while in high school to reach that same 1,000-point milestone or even to break the all-time point record held by current Brown Middle School physical education teacher Katrina Antonellis
“Those were the goals that I put for myself,” Burton said. “And those are the goals that I just really wanted to accomplish.”
But it wasn’t easy. Arriving at Northwestern in late June 2018, having graduated high school earlier that month, she started basketball and classes right away. She said that college is more fast-paced than high school, but she found the people there to be supportive.
In college, away from family and friends, Burton had to develop time management skills and self-motivation to train on her own.
“I just had to set that time out for myself to get better,” she said.
Burton said the more she played in college, the more comfortable she became. Realizing it wasn’t that much different from high school, she said she gained confidence in her role as a leader on the team.
Burton continues to train hard.
“My goals are to be the best kind of basketball player I can be and the overall person I can be,” she said. “Seeing the success that comes from working hard. I just love that feeling.”
Burton said that current South seniors preparing for college should rely on their support systems once they begin.
“If you are struggling, reach out to those you feel would be helpful, but at the same time, be okay with it being uncomfortable for a little bit because it’s new,” she says.
To those hoping to play college sports, she said to stick to your goals.
“Really, don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t make it to where you want to go,” Burton said. “If you really do have a goal in mind, work at it each and every day.”