Hometown Horns: Costa Mesa, Calif.
Stereotypically described as the wealthy, stuck-up, designer brand shopping hub we know from shows like The OC and Laguna Beach, Costa Mesa, Calif., has much more to offer than overpriced sunglasses and a nice tan. It is home to three of our current UT student-athletes: Volleyball's junior libero and 2005 MVP and sophomore defensive specialist , and soccer senior .
Burlingham, a Newport Harbor High School graduate, has started all but three games in her career for the Longhorns. Making an immediate impact, she led the team in assists as a freshman. She has gone on from there to become a team captain and active career postseason scoring leader with seven points. A model of the label "student-athlete," Burlingham has been on the Big 12 Commissioner's Honor Roll for six straight semesters and was named first-team Academic All Big 12 last year.
All of these trends of academic and athletic success started back in Costa Mesa. In high school, Burlingham was a three-sport letterwinner who played soccer for four years, ran track for three, and played two seasons of volleyball. She was selected to the 2003 McDonald's All-American West Squad, earned 2002 Sea View League MVP honors, set school records in the 200, 400 and 4x400 relay in track, and still had time to be a member of Newport Harbor's honor roll every year.
Hall was also a multiple sport athlete, playing volleyball and soccer for Newport Harbor. A four-year letterwinner for the volleyball team, she and her past and present teammate, Jennings, led the Sailors to the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) championship in 2003.
Jennings was a four-year letterwinner and member of the Dream Team. She was All-CIF first team as a senior and eanred Sea View League first- and second-team honors throughout her years at Newport Harbor.
Although Hall and Jennings garnered many honors in the gym, the sun and the sand definitely had some input in their development as volleyball players. While Hall liked to play beach volleyball more for fun with her mom and dad, she played in a few AVP tournaments. Jennings has been playing in beach volleyball tournaments since she was 11. She competed in some events with her mom and volleyball was always a part of a day at the beach with friends.
Costa Mesa has not always been Orange County's focal point of beach goers -- the land was originally used as grazing land for the cattle of the mission San Juan Capistrano. A way station was built for cattle herders in the early 1800s, and by the 1880s, settlers had begun buying land and the town of Fairview was established. However, a storm washed out the newly constructed railroad and financially destroyed the town. The area then developed as an agricultural center called Harper after the failed land-development boom of the 1880s.
In 1920, through a contest among its residents, Harper was renamed Costa Mesa, Spanish for "coastal tableland." The town flourished with the establishment of the Santa Ana Air Base during World War II. The base's 1,283 acres of land was later used for schools, fairgrounds, City Hall, and housing tracts. After the war, many of the men who had trained at the base returned with their families and started the population boom that continues today. In 1953, the city encompassed 3.5 square miles and had 16,840 people. Today, Costa Mesa has an area over 17 square miles and a population of 108,724. In the 1960s, the Sergerstrom family began developing shopping centers and office complexes, which formed Costa Mesa into the city it is now.
Today the booming city boasts a new Performing Arts Center, the Orange County Museum of Art, and the South Coast Plaza (trademarked "The Ultimate Shopping Resort"). So what would Burlingham show a friend who had one day to spend in her hometown?
"I would take them to the beach and hang out," she responded.
When asked how Costa Mesa had influenced her athletic career, Hall was quick to talk of the competitive edge the city had given her.
"Volleyball is very competitive in Costa Mesa," Hall said, "especially when you get to the high school level. All of the surrounding schools have both men's and women's volleyball teams."
Costa Mesa definitely has a sports oriented atmosphere, but it is not limited to volleyball.
"Soccer is a very dominant sport," Hall said, "especially at a young age. As girls get older, though, volleyball gets more competitive."
Burlingham had a tougher time deciding between the dominant of the two sports.
"Well, I played both and our volleyball coach (Dan Glenn) is pretty well known in the area," she said. "I would say volleyball is more dominant in the school, but soccer may have been more so in the community. They're pretty even, now that I think about it."
These three born and raised California women have finally chosen a sport to pursue here at Texas, but how did they end up so far from home?
"I came to visit and loved it," Jennings said. "I loved the coaches, the team, Austin, and it was surprisingly a lot like California."
Jenning's glowing reports played into her teammate Hall's decision.
"I wanted to get out of my bubble and when Alyson came back to visit, she had nothing but good things to say about Texas."
Hall's mother now lives in Dallas and she said being close to her was also a factor.
Burlingham took more convincing.
"When I was being recruited I never thought I would come to Texas," she said, "but Austin is so unique. It is awesome that the community is so involved with the school and I loved the atmosphere of UT."