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Carlie Rzeszotarski

Morgan Burchhardt

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Carlie Rzeszotarski

Member of the CDSWOY Class of 2022
  • Class

    2022

  • Sport(s)

    Scholastic

  • Induction

    2022

Written by Jim Schiltz, The Daily Gazette

When Carlie Rzeszotarski was brought up to the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake varsity girls’ volleyball team as an eighth-grader late in the 2017 season, Spartans coach Gary Bynon was certain that her natural talents combined with diligence and commitment would lead to grand accomplishments.

He was correct.

“As a volleyball player, she is arguably the most decorated player that the Capital Region has seen,” Bynon said.

Rzeszotarski excelled as a volleyball hitter, defender and distributor for the Spartans, but also did so much more in her high school days as an athlete, student leader and youth sports advocate.

“In my 34 years in education I have not had many players like Carlie,” Bynon said of the Colgate commit, who graduated with a career classroom GPA of 4.0 and with two state volleyball championships. “She does great things in the school community and academically, she is an outstanding athlete in two sports, and most of all she is a role model for the future women athletes of our sports. One of the greatest things that you can do as a female athlete is having young athletes want to follow in your footsteps.”

Rzeszotarski was herself one of those young followers.
“Since I made the varsity at such a young age, there were a lot of girls I looked up to, and now I realize how much of an impact they had on me,” said Rzeszotarski, who was a sixth-grade team manager for Burnt Hills’ 2015 state title team before starring in the program’s next two title runs. “‘I’m in that position now and it means so much to set that good example. It’s something we emphasize here.”

Burnt Hills volleyball is synonymous with championships, too, and Rzeszotarski was named the state volleyball tournament Class A MVP as a sophomore and again as a senior after leading Burnt Hills to its seventh and eighth NYSPHSAA titles.
“Looking back, I had a perfect senior year,” said the 18-year-old, who as a 12-th-grader was named a MaxPreps first-team All-American. “We had a great basketball season and volleyball had the perfect ending.”

When there were no state competitions her junior year due to COVID restrictions, Rzeszotarski anchored a Spartans squad that capped a 20-0 Fall 2 campaign with the Suburban Council tournament championship. Afterward her numerous accolades included Gatorade New York Player of the Year.

“Carlie is the type of athlete that all coaches try to build a team around,” Burnt Hills athletic director Joe Scalise said of the four-time New York Volleyball Coaches Association Section II Player of the Year and three-time Suburban Council MVP. “A hard working, dedicated, driven, team-first type of person.”

“It’s all about the final outcome, and to get there you need that connection with everyone out there,” said Rzeszotarski, who is one of 10 high school honorees for the third-annual Capital District Sports Women of the Year awards. “I try to help my team get to 25. I don’t care if I get the big kill. I don’t care about personal stats as much as winning. I’ll remember the state championship game and not how many kills I had.”
An outside hitter and middle blocker, Rzeszotarski became Burnt Hills career leader in kills during her senior season (1,683) when she was tabbed a first-team All-American, an All-Region 1 selection and a second-team Best and Brightest pick by the American Volleyball Coaches Association.

The 6-foot-1 Rzeszotarski was also difference-maker on the basketball court this past winter with her scoring, rebounding and defending in the Spartans’ drive to the Section II Class A title game.

“I hadn’t touched a ball in a year,” said Rzeszotarski, who did not play basketball as a junior when the season overlapped with the Fall 2 volleyball campaign. “I wasn’t sure if I was going to play. I didn’t expect us to have such a great season.”

Rzeszotarski has shared her sports knowledge as a coach with Junior Diggers Volleyball, at the Spike Mountain and Skidmore volleyball camps, and with Spartan Junior Basketball. Her background also includes camp counselor at Vacation Bible School and a teacher’s helper at Stevens Elementary School.

“She has a great rapport with the young players and they love working with her,” Bynon said.

Earlier in her athletic career, she was named MVP of the BH-BL modified and JV softball teams.

“Carlie is the type of athlete that excels in whatever she puts her mind to,” Scalise said.

Rzeszotarski’s busy senior year included working on the BH-BL yearbook and serving as president of the Math Club in which she has been a member throughout high school. Rzeszotarski academic participation list also includes National Junior Honor Society and National Honor Society, World Language Honor Society, Math Honor Society, Science Honor Society, Suburban Council Leadership Summit, BH-BL Student Government Leadership Day and Fall Sports Leadership Team.

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Madison Relyea

Morgan Burchhardt

Explore CDSWOY All-Time Roster Members

Madison Relyea

Member of the CDSWOY Class of 2021
  • Class

    2021

  • Sport(s)

    Scholastic

  • Induction

    2021

Written by Michael Kelly, The Daily Gazette Sports Editor

Morgan Burchhardt experienced a lot in her six years at The College of Saint Rose.

There were two appearances in the NCAA Division II women’s soccer tournament Final Four. 

There were also two major knee operations.

Burchhardt wouldn’t trade those experiences for anything.

The sixth-year senior and Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake High School graduate who had three goals and 14 assists for the Golden Knights last season is one of the three college recipients of the inaugural Capital District Sports Women of the Year, which also honors 10 high school athletes.

“I just think that it’s an amazing honor,” Burchhardt said. “It’s a great way to showcase young women in the area and their accomplishments athletically and academically. It’s just such a great way to recognize The College of Saint Rose women’s soccer program.”

Burchhardt appreciates all she went through, and that drove her to succeed.

“When I started as a freshman in 2014, on the first day of preseason, I gained the respect of the upperclassmen by passing my physical test and producing on the field,” Burchhardt said. “Because of that, they really took me under their wing. I was extremely fortunate for that because that leadership — especially because some of them were national champions [in 2011] — really carried with me throughout my time.”

Burchhardt was named a captain her sophomore year. But then in 2016, she suffered a torn ACL that kept her out the entire season. She tried to return in 2017, but after playing one game, Burchhardt reinjured the knee and had to have another season-ending operation.

There was never a point that she wanted to give up.

“I always wanted to represent Saint Rose on a national stage for soccer, as well as individually,” Burchhardt said. “I always wanted to be an All-American. I saw the honor my freshman year when the upperclassmen were receiving it. I knew I was going to be an All-American at Saint Rose, and I was going to do anything to achieve it. I knew, in order to achieve that, I needed to lead this team as far as I could. Not only was it me leading, it was my co-captain Nina [Predanic] leading. It was a lot of the upperclassmen leading for this past year.

“I knew we could get a team back to the Final Four. It was just a matter of when the parts would come together. It came together my last season.

She returned in 2018. Burchhardt is the only player in the team’s history to record 10 or more assists in four seasons. She’s fourth all-time in career points (114), second all-time assists (52) and tied for 11th all-time in goals (31).

At the end of last season, Burchhardt was a United Soccer Coaches third-team All-America pick.

“Just getting that appreciation and showing the girls what it’s like to get to a Final Four is exactly what I tried to do during my time,” Burchhardt said. “My knee injuries, obviously, took a dominate roll for two years and it did impact the team, obviously, on the field. However, I always tried to keep my leadership there as much as I could on the sidelines during games and practices. My teammates’ support has been amazing throughout my time. I was so fortunate to play with so many different players and the background that they’re from. It’s crazy that a little school in Albany completely widened my eyes to that opportunity.”

One of the community service projects that Burchhardt was involved in and proud of was her work organizing Penny Wars, a fundraiser for the Strength in Numbers non-profit organization.

“It raised over $700 collecting loose change in about a 10-day period for a couple of hours a day,” Burchhardt said. “All that money went back to Strength in Numbers. Blake Snyder’s father, unfortunately, passed away from cancer. It was really nice to give back to another Saint Rose alum and also a soccer player.”

This article appeared in the 2020 CDSWOY Awards Program on August 18, 2020.

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