Parkland College Women's Volleyball player Abigail Burnett has been selected as the 2020 NJCAA Lea Plarski Award winner.
The prestigious national award is presented annually to a student athlete who exemplifies sportsmanship, leadership, community service, academic excellence, and athletic ability.
A former varsity standout at St. Joseph-Ogden High School, Burnett joined the Cobras in 2018 and began collecting an impressive set of stats in her two-year career. The sophomore opposite hitter ranked in the top-30 nationally in four categories: 8th in attack percentage (.396), 24th in kills (443), 26th in total blocks (124), and 28th in total points (506.5). In the final three matches of the national tournament, she amassed 40 kills and 11 blocks, with a .351 attack percentage. Burnett ranked third on the Cobras in eight categories: kills, kills per set, total attacks, attack percentage, block assists, total blocks, points, and points per set.
The Parkland Radiology student has been named to the 2019 NJCAA DII All-American First Team, the AVCA Two-Year College All-American Third Team, the Region 24 All-Region First Team, and the M-WAC All-Conference Team. She was able to balance academics, athletics, and community service obligations and maintain a 3.7 during the season and achieve an overall 3.5 cumulative GPA. She is the daughter of Chad and Brandi Burnett of St. Joseph.
Cobras Volleyball Assistant Coach Heather Fletcher was asked to write a testimonial about Burnett for the award and describes her as an individual of high character and an invaluable team leader for the Cobras.
"Abi’s leadership carried over from the court to the classroom and then most importantly, in our community," Fletcher explained. "She facilitated practices and scrimmages with the Champaign-Urbana Special Recreation (CUSR) athletes. She was always the first person to volunteer to work with those who needed help or encouragement to play. She has the ability to connect with everyone she meets and make each person feel valued. Burnett also volunteers with Canteen Runs in her hometown, which provide needed supplies to the homeless community in the Champaign-Urbana area."
Created in 1995, the Plarski Award is named after past NJCAA President Lea Plarski, former director of athletics at St. Louis Community College-Florissant Valley. In 1975, Plarski was instrumental in establishing the Women's Division of the NJCAA, the first national collegiate athletic organization to develop such a structure.
The NJCAA held a ceremony via Zoom to present the award to Burnett with her fellow volleyball teammates. The public may view the presentation here.