In sports, there is a saying that goes, “there is no ‘I’ in ‘team,’ which is used to symbolize putting the needs of the whole group before the needs of oneself. Friendswood Junior High seventh grader, Baileigh Burtis, takes being a selfless player to a whole new level.
Burtis is on the FJH 7A girls basketball team and though her coaches believe she is one of the best in the program, Burtis plays humbly and gives herself little to no recognition.
“When I think of a kid who has a great story, a great attitude and is an overall great kid, Baileigh stands out to me,” Josh Fritts, head basketball coach, said. “She could be all about herself, but she’s not because she’s all about the game and the team.”
Burtis said it is important to lift others up and give them a chance to shine.
“I try to help everyone,” Burtis said. “It’s important to be selfless because it gives other people a chance to show how well they can do on the court instead of taking credit all for myself.”
Credit should be given to her though, according to Fritts. He referred to Burtis as the “quiet assassin” of the team.
“She has a workman’s mentality: she does her job, she does her duty, she runs her plays, and you don’t realize how good she is until she blows by you and you realize you can’t underestimate her just because she’s quiet,” he said.
Regardless of her talent, Burtis continued to shy away from being recognized. Even being nominated for a Student Spotlight was difficult for Burtis to accept because she does not like to receive any glory for her good work.
“I don’t like being the center of attention,” Burtis said. “I think other people probably deserve it more: Megan is really nice and does a lot of good things in the school, McKenzie is really smart and helps people with work, and Bella and Macy are really uplifting with everyone.”
“That’s why I nominated her,” he said. “She talks about other kids and their attributes and how great they are when she has those attributes herself, and that’s why she’s a perfect teammate. She always defers the limelight to her teammates even though she could have it.”
The ability to step back and maintain humility amongst success is something Fritts said he admires.
“She exudes a quiet strength,” Fritts said. “I’m proud she’s on the team. It honors me to be around her.”
Fritts said his respect for Burtis also comes from how she has handled adversity in her life.
“She absolutely inspires me,” Fritts said. “Without getting into too much detail, Baileigh has faced adversity and she never complains about it; she just overcomes it. She never makes an excuse. She’s taken the cards she’s been dealt and plays them as best as she can.”
This ability to overcome is what causes Burtis to maintain her belief of empowering others.
“If you get upset and angry on the court, the entire game starts falling apart,” Burtis said. “But if you stick together and lift each other up, then it gets better.”
Fritts said he believes Burtis will go on to do great things in life, no matter where she is led.
“I can see her helping other kids overcome problems they have through her example, her work ethic and her attitude,” Fritts said. “She wants to help other people, so I think she has a long life of lifting others up ahead of her.”