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Where are they now? Joslynn Burkett ’01

By Joslynn Burkett ’01
Alumna reflects on becoming part of the Torrey community, her LJCDS journey and how tuition assistance made it all possible.
I attended La Jolla Country Day School during high school, graduating with the Class of 2001. My time on campus encompassed many more than just those four years. After receiving a degree in kinesiology from Arizona State University, I returned to my alma mater initially as a tennis coach for all grades, eventually being given charge of the high school teams and an advisory class. My journey as a Torrey began early, around 1994, while training with Angela in the tennis program. It was these years leading up to high school that sowed the beginnings of what would become a love for the Country Day community, well before becoming a student. 

I was on campus nearly every day of the week, training with the goal to play college tennis and perhaps, pursue it as a professional. I was quickly embraced but I was uncertain as to why. I would shortly realize that, simply, is the culture of this school. I regularly crashed high school practices, being pushed in off-court training by Lisl and Paige. The boys, including Dror, Josh and Randy, had no problem letting me beat up on them. They all respected my dreams and whether they were aware of it or not, pushed me to achieve them. During these practices, Mr. Marcus would walk by and jokingly drop a challenge except, according to him, he would get the entire court, including the fences. 

With high school on the horizon, I struggled to find a place that would not only demand a high level of study but also nurture my passion for tennis. I was a true student-athlete. To most, trying to train at a proper intensity to achieve an athletic scholarship was my own problem. But without a full scholarship, attending college would be unlikely and leave my future uncertain. My education would hopefully get me into college, but my tennis would pay for it. Country Day supported the scholar, artist and athlete. When they knew what I needed, they said, “Of course. We can accommodate that.” Not only could they, but they also wanted to, generously, with tuition assistance included. 

From that beginning, I could write an endless love letter for the appreciation I have for the kindness and acceptance this community has bestowed upon me. Mrs. Kelly White was the first to say, “Welcome to Country Day, Joslynn,” and I would be privileged years later to coach her two children. Lee, Ms. Fontanini and Mrs. Middleton would open the library well before 7 a.m. every morning allowing me to get out of the cold and rain. My first class at Country Day was Ms. Shaul’s A Block Freshman English, and because of her dedication, I continue to write to this day. Coach Reaume, an inspiration for all Country Day athletes, was by my side when I signed my Letter of Intent. I sat in Mr. Perrotti’s classroom every day after school until he finally, inexhaustibly, made chemistry click. And it was Ms. Nordenger that gave me the courage to embrace public speaking in sophomore speech class. 

I was never sure how to show my gratitude then, but my coach, Angela, said, “Win.” My teammates, Jodi, Meredith, Lindsey, Rachel and I won CIF team titles our junior and senior years. I won the individual title as a senior as well. When I returned as a head coach between 2009 and 2017, the men’s and women’s teams would combine for a total of eight more CIF team titles, never failing to win our conference, along with three more individual doubles crowns. The beauty in being part of these accomplishments is that every single student was more than a tennis player—they were artists, musicians, actors, debaters, scientists, inventors, writers, leaders. I had hoped to give back even just a little of what I have received when I returned as a coach, but at the end of it all, I’ll always be in debt because Country Day keeps giving and giving and giving. 

Tennis will always be my passion, my life, my soul. But I’ve been able to successfully pursue other endeavors thanks to the skills and knowledge gained at Country Day. From endurance running to art collecting, from writing to public speaking, from estate selling to fundraising, from supporting trans youth and their families to caring for my two pups with my wife, I am truly privileged. All because Country Day said we are all scholars, artists and athletes.

To the Country Day community, past, present, and future, a thousand times thank you, and then a thousand more.

Once a Torrey, Always a Torrey.

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