“My biggest accomplishment for the Stanford Tennis team was winning the National Championships my senior year, in 1997,” said M-A ‘93 alumnus Emily Burt. “With Stanford Soccer, we did quite well as a team by reaching the Final Four in my freshman year, the Elite 8 the next year, and individually I had a particularly good senior season with 17 goals scored.” Burt was a dual sport athlete at M-A and Stanford, and later a professional soccer player. She now works at Raptive, in the Online Advertising department. Burt was inducted into the M-A Hall of Fame in 2002 for soccer.
She said, “I started around nine or ten years old for both tennis and soccer, but I played quite casually. It wasn’t until 8th grade and going into high school that I started taking them more seriously.”
Even while playing casually, she found a passion for what she did. “I remember having a lot of fun in both sports because I had friends on both teams and had positive, knowledgeable coaches. Like any team sport, a lot of the joy comes from connecting with teammates and working hard together toward a shared goal.”
Burt enjoyed balancing the two sports during different seasons. She said, “It was energizing. It helped me get a little bit of time away from one sport while focusing on the other, and helped with injury prevention. It’s proven that doing one sport from a young age makes athletes more prone to overuse. I would come into each season a bit rusty, but it was worth it.”
As a student-athlete focused on both her academic and athletic careers, she was set on going to a strong academic school. She explained, “I was recruited by multiple schools early in my senior year for both sports, and visited a few on recruiting trips. But for me, going to college was primarily about getting an education, and secondarily about playing sports. So I focused a lot on my grades in high school, and wanted to choose a college that was the right fit for me academically.”
When it came to college, she didn’t travel far. “I went to college locally at Stanford and majored in Human Biology. My focus area within this major was actually more about environmental sciences, but I really didn’t end up doing anything directly related to this in my professional career.” Her professional career has primarily been in the online advertising industry—first at Google and YouTube and now at a smaller company called Raptive.
Burt has a number of accomplishments from her college career. She was the Stanford team co-captain in 1996 and 1997, MVP in 1997 and 1998, and led the nation in game-winning goals in 1997.
“My first job out of college was working on an online advertising company, right when this was still a fairly new industry. I worked for nearly 3 years before the WUSA was formed and I decided to have a go at that.”
Burt continued her athletic career following Stanford by joining the first women’s pro soccer league, the Women’s United Soccer Association (WUSA). Though, this path was not smooth sailing, she said. “I had three months to prepare for invite-only league tryouts, and I began a rigorous training regimen while also working full-time.” However, these tryouts ultimately drafted Burt into the Atlanta Beat. She was 1 of 160 women chosen across the world for the first women’s soccer league in the U.S. But, the hard work would continue. She said, as “Even though I had been a standout player in college, I was a small fish in the WUSA.”
While Burt played for the Atlanta Beat, it was one of the best teams in the league. In her third year, she was traded to the Philadelphia Charge, the last-place team. There, she was a starter–a change from before. Burt said, “People have asked me whether I preferred being a substitute player for the first-place team or being a starter for the last-place team.”
“I learned during this time that personal success without team success is pretty unfulfilling. I wouldn’t have known it while I was still playing for Atlanta. Still, my experience in Philadelphia reminded me of why I first began playing soccer: for the teamwork and camaraderie,” Burt said.
Now, Burt involves herself in soccer through her two sons. She said, “Sports have definitely shaped my life for the better. What I love most about sports is it teaches players about teamwork, disappointment, and acting selflessly, and it helps build leadership skills. The biggest thing soccer taught me is that an ‘assist’ is often more valuable than actually scoring the goal.”
She added, “I really wanted both my kids to try various sports, primarily to find that joy from working together as a team and also to experience the satisfaction that comes from really dedicating oneself to something that is hard, and that takes a lot of practice to get better at. But, I also wanted and still want sports to be their thing—not me pushing them. My 11-year-old has focused mostly on baseball and basketball, and my nine-year-old loves soccer. I didn’t feel strongly about which sports they tried, just that they try what makes them happy. And while they both seem to love sports, I would be equally happy to see them focus on something else they love.”
Currently, Burt works at Raptive. She explained “My job is focused on helping online creators earn a living producing high quality and unique content, primarily by utilizing advertising. In my role as Chief Customer Officer at Raptive, I oversee the creator-facing teams at Raptive.”
Burt was inducted in 2015 when Athletic Director Paul Snow reached out about redoing the Hall of Fame display cabinets. She then shared a jersey from her professional soccer-playing days.
Reflecting on what soccer and tennis taught her, Burt said, “Have fun with your sport! There’s a tendency to get so caught up in winning and your statistics, and I think people forget why we all started playing sports in the first place. If you are really serious about your sport and want to play in college, remember that student-athletes are students before athletes, and long after you’ve stopped playing your sport at a high level, you’ll still rely on your education and the great network of people you connected with in college.”