By Marc Raimondi
Mark Burik truly fell in love with volleyball when he was a junior at St. Francis Prep. He excelled at both football and baseball in high school, but he knew where his future was as he watched the Queens College men’s volleyball team as an 11th grader.
“I saw at that level what this could be,” the Glendale native said. “I said, ‘I want to be a part of that.’”
Burik, who played Division I volleyball at George Mason, has already eclipsed that level. Now, he’s ready for the next step. He will leave for Sweden in October and there he will play professional men’s volleyball for a team called Vingakers.
A Mason alumnus, Dave Egan, plays on that Swedish squad and told the club’s administrators about Burik, who circumnavigated the tryout process and saved himself some money on flights in the process. Vingakers scouts saw him on tape and liked the 6-foot-3 Burik’s leaping ability and jump serve.
“I’m super pumped,” Burik said. “Once I reached Mason, it started coming into my head that I could do this professionally. I said, ‘Maybe I can use volleyball as my tool to see the world.’”
He could have taken other paths. Burik was good enough at football to play in the Outback Steakhouse Empire Challenge, the annual all-star game pitting Long Island’s best seniors against the best from New York City. He was also named to the 2003 TimesLedger CHSAA All-Queens baseball team as a senior.
Last month, Burik helped lead the New York City men’s open volleyball team to a silver medal at the Empire State Games in Cortland, N.Y.
There are other accolades on his mind now — it’s not just all about seeing the world. Burik says he would love to be a regular on the Association of Volleyball Professionals beach tour or play on the U.S. men’s volleyball national team.
“I’m not good enough right now,” he said. “But if I work hard enough, who knows?”
Reach Associate Sports Editor Marc Raimondi by e-mail at email@example.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 130.