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2017-18 Burbank Leader Girls' Athlete of the Year: Burroughs' Grote doubles her success

2017-18 Burbank Leader Girls' Athlete of the Year: Burroughs' Grote doubles her success
Marin Grote helped Burroughs High to Pacific League titles in volleyball, basketball during her 2017-18 senior campaign. (Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

Since coming to Burroughs High as a freshman four years ago, Marin Grote prided herself in being a two-sport athlete.

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However, as her tenure continued in the Indians’ girls’ volleyball and basketball programs, Grote began to receive more college attention for her exploits on the volleyball court.

Heading into her senior year, Grote had committed to play volleyball at the University of Washington. Instead of forgoing her final season in basketball to concentrate on the sport that would be her ticket to collegiate athletics, Grote was determined to continue in basketball.

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“No, I never considered giving up basketball in high school,” Grote said. “In fact, I was more excited than ever to continue playing basketball and working out and cross training. Also, my coach here at UW, coach Keegan [Cook], also encouraged me to continue playing both sports.

“I really think the cross training I got from playing basketball helped me in volleyball. I really loved playing basketball, too, and I didn’t want to give that up.”

Following her heart, Grote enjoyed a tremendous amount of success as a senior for Burroughs, helping pilot the volleyball and basketball teams to Pacific League championships. In addition, she was named the league player of the year in volleyball, an all-league first-team selection in basketball and earned All-Area first-team recognition in both sports.

For her accomplishments, Grote has been named the 2017-18 Burbank Leader Girls’ Athlete of the Year.

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Volleyball coach Edwin Real said he was impressed with Grote’s commitment to both sports.

“Not a lot of athletes do that these days and there’s a tendency to just specialize in one sport,” Real said. ”But she embraced being a two-sport athlete, she wanted to do it and she was very successful in both sports.

“There was no question for me that I was going to encourage her to keep playing the two sports. And I think Marin really saw the benefits of doing that.”

Added Burroughs basketball coach Vicky Oganyan: “I give her a lot of credit for sticking with both. Sometimes these days there is pressure on an athlete who is very good in one sport to stick to that sport to hopefully get a scholarship in college.

“But along with loving volleyball, I know Marin also loved playing basketball. I think she and her parents really understood that she should be a high school kid and she should be able to enjoy multiple sports, and I think that’s what she did.”

Originally a middle blocker for the Indians in volleyball, Grote was moved to the outside and became a dominant force. Her senior campaign provided a wealth of highlights, personal and team-wise for Grote.

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After sharing the Pacific League Player of the Year award as a sophomore and junior, Grote earned the accolade for herself during her final season with Burroughs.

Grote was the focal point for Burroughs, averaging 13 kills a match, including 22 and 17 in matches against Arcadia and 21 against Crescenta Valley.

“I’ve always had more of a relaxed vibe on the court,” said Grote, who plays for the San Gabriel Valley Elite Volleyball Club. “And while I kept this idea in mind, for volleyball this senior season I felt a little more inclined to try and play my best for every match. Hitting a ball out or missing a block was no longer acceptable.”

With Grote leading the way, the Indians went 24-6, 12-1 in league and won the program’s second title in three years by winning 10 straight league matches to close out league competition.

Burroughs advanced to the second round of the CIF Southern Section Division III playoffs, falling to Westridge in five games.

“Marin is under control on the court and she’s also confident in what she does,” Real said. “She’s just confident in her abilities and she is just able to run with it.

“She is just willing to do what she has to do to help the team. And that was evident when we moved her from the middle to the outside and she was willing to make that move and it worked well for us. In college, she will play in the middle, but for us, we needed her on the outside and she stepped up.”

With little time for transition, the 6-foot-4 Grote surged into the basketball season. In earning Pacific League first-team honors, the senior center averaged 9.2 points, 10.4 rebounds, 3.8 blocks, 2.3 assists and 1.4 steals per game.

“With a very young team, Marin provided us with leadership and really helped some of the younger players along,” Oganyan said. “That meant a lot for our team.

“Obviously her height was a difference-maker as far as her play, but what impressed me was that not only was she tall, but she was super athletic, as well. She moved really well, she could jump, she ran the floor, she had stamina and those qualities just added to the height that she had. As a senior, she really dominated in the paint for us.”

Much like the scenario in volleyball a few months earlier, Burroughs (22-8) embarked on a 7-0 run over the second half of league with wins over Crescenta Valley and Glendale to finish 11-3 in league and forge a three-way tie for the title with the Falcons and Nitros.

In the playoffs, the Indians were eliminated in the Division II-AA second round by JSerra Catholic.

“Neither title was more significant than the other in my senior year,” Grote said. “Both but those senior-year titles meant more to me than any other titles I won my junior, sophomore or freshman year.

“It just felt like I had been working for them for four years. All those long days of starting school at 7 a.m. and going home at 10 p.m. had finally felt like it was all worth it. Not that I ever felt like it didn’t, but they just felt more real, more personal to me.”

In her tenure at Burroughs, Grote played on five league championship teams (three in basketball, two in volleyball).

With her basketball exploits behind her, Grote has poured her efforts completely into volleyball and is in Seattle working out with the Washington program.

“I am happy with what I was able to accomplish in high school,” Grote said. “Now, I’m really looking forward to playing in college and just enjoying that experience.”

Top Five Girls’ Athletes of the Year

1. Marin Grote, Burroughs volleyball, basketball

2. Maya Wilson, Burroughs swimming

3. Emily Virtue, Burroughs cross-country, track and field

4. Elizabeth Switzer, Burroughs track and field

5. Melissa Zozulenko, Providence basketball

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