As Greens Farms Academy senior wrestler Steven Burrell was going through the recruiting process, one thought kept coming back to him.
One school seemed to really want him more than everybody else.
That school was the University of Virginia and that’s where Burrell will be heading following his graduation from GFA in the fall.
“I kind of decided to go somewhere where I’d say I felt like I was wanted,” Burrell said. “I was being recruited by other schools, but it really seemed like the Virginia coaches prioritized me. On the visit they were so open and up front and honest with me. I just felt like I wanted to go somewhere where I could see.”
Thus, the Dragon became a Cavalier, signing on the dotted line along with six other GFA athletes to play sports at the next level during November’s early signing period.
While Burrell is competing at heavier weights at GFA, he is hoping to settle in at UVA at around 197 pounds.
“I don’t wanna get that big (to wrestle heavyweights),” he said. “I’d like to be in a weight class where I can be athletic, and being able to move well and not have to gain all that extra weight.”
Extra weight was a something Burrell carried with him for a bit after GFA wrestling coach Jack Conroy talked to him about transferring to GFA from New Rochelle High School in Westchester County, N.Y.
“He was giving me this opportunity and at first it sounded like a good idea, but I didn’t think I wanted to do it because I didn’t want to transfer to a new school,” Burrell said. “But we stayed in touch and I realized that while I was happy where I was, GFA was the best option for me and I haven’t regretted it since.”
It was Burrell’s dad who first got him and his brother on a wrestling mat, and he admits the sport didn’t take at first.
“We both hated it,” Burrell said with a laugh. “Honestly, I hated it for most of my life.”
Once his brother, who is two years older, hit high school, though, and the stakes and the competition got higher, Burrell grew to appreciate the sport that much more.
“I just was inspired to get better,” Burrell said. “I wanted to make an impact on the team, like my brother did. He just pushed me to get better and we were always there for each other.”
Burrell hopes to be a business major at Virginia, though he has pin-pointed exactly what he wants to do in the future yet.
“I don’t know specifically where I see myself working or anything, but I just know that UVA will set me up for a good job,” he said.