Chautauqua Star

Cheryl Burns

When it comes to feeling the burn, no one loves it more than Cheryl Burns. Burns, a fitness trainer and teacher at Clymer, has organized a triathlon to combat cabin fever and symptoms of seasonal affective disorder for the past two years.“Training and Nutrition are my addiction and I am thankful for it,” she said. For Burns, the importance of fitness comes from the heart.

“I come from a family of 11 and no one is spared depression except the two of us that work out,” she said. “There is a great deal of alcoholism and even drug use but I have always chosen the healthier path. I would also have to give credit to the family I married into as they are also a large family but close kit and supportive.”

It was some good old fashioned sibling rivalry that first sparked the competitive spirit in Burns.

“We had nine kids in my family, six boys, and two girls where I landed number six in the line- up,” Burns said. “With four older brothers it was very competitive and challenging trying to get into their baseball, basketball, or other games. I had to get really good or there was no way I was playing with the guys.”

Cheryl Burns grew up in Sheridan so work on cash crop farms was plentiful. This was good physical work and Burns craved it.

Upon graduating from college, Burns was offered a job at the Pennsylvania State University Dept. as a Technology Education Specialist. She wanted to be closer to her hometown, so Burns accepted a position with the Chautauqua County DPW as the County Recycling Coordinator. A private waste company then offered her a position while she completed her Master’s in Education. “After six years of professional positions outside of teaching, I finally began my first job teaching as a Science Teacher in Alternative Education,” Burns explained. “This was a great start to what I believe is my passion to this day and that is teaching science to young people.”

Burns played sports throughout high school at Forestville Central and for two years at SUNY Fredonia Ladies Basketball. She acquired a degree at Slippery Rock University of PA in Environmental Education.

“Once in college, I realized there were not many girls that would play pick up sports so I joined the guys on the court two or more hours a day,” she said. “It was tough being accepted on the court and always had to prove my skill or I would never get the ball. I played so much pick up ball with the guys, when it came to teaching I would play a lot of basketball with the high school kids and they told me I should try out for the Women’s NBA. I laughed but they persisted and of course added ‘that is what you would tell us.”

So she did. Burns tried out for the Washington Mystics when they were first forming a team and a year later, she was invited to the Detroit Shock but tore a quad muscle two weeks before the tryouts in a muddy game of football with her students.

Burns’ passion for action doesn’t just stop with sports, she has been running and biking since the late 80s.

“I began running on my own to stay in shape and started lifting weights while at Slippery Rock. I began entering races in the early 90’s and had no idea I was much of a runner until a friend who ran told me was ranked in the Buffalo News Runner of the Year Series. /that is all it took to hook me,” she said.

Burns ran all the series races and was awarded with the overall Runner of the Year in 1993. She set course records in four states.

“I did a triathlon here and there and never really got into them until crazy injuries prevented me from doing great distances on foot. Multi-sport training and competing is a great deal of fun,” she said.

Burns initiated the “Kick Cabin Fever Triathlon” with the Turner Fitness Center in memory of her brother who took his life after battling deep bouts of depression and alcoholism.

“Marty was a great man with great talents and was kind to all,” she said. “I will cherish him and memories forever. My goal with the indoor triathlon is to get people motivated to train in the ‘off season,’ to get people who have never tried a triathlon to do it. An indoor tri is obtainable by anyone will to show up and work out for 45 minutes. We all know how hard S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder) hits this area so we need more ways to get people moving during the long winter months.”

Burns is a Personal Trainer and has trained athletes of all ages. She truly enjoy seeing people getting their “foot” speed and core strength and then hearing how much better they are at the activities they pursue. She currently teaches Agricultural Mechanics, Aquaculture, Landscaping, Greenhouse Management, Veterinary Science, Leadership, Forestry and Conservation, and Food Science at Clymer Central School for grades 8 to 12.

The additional financial assistance of the community is critical to the success of the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame.
We gratefully acknowledge these individuals and organizations for their generous support.