Burnett serving as director of Hornets Nest

Joyce Burnett is the new facility director for the Hornets Nest Sports Club in Netawaka.

Burnett grew up in rural Wilsey, a small town outside of Council Grove, and competed in basketball and track and field at the college and national levels.

“I love the idea of rural kids getting big city access,” Burnett said of the sports club. “We’re addressing community health and bringing elite training, resources and competition to this area.”

The 30,059-square foot facility includes space for free weights, cardio equipment, circuit training, physical therapy and aerobics classes. Community members can access a full-sized court that can be coverted to basketball, volleyball or tennis areas with a four-lane track.

The facility has an 8,073 square foot indoor pool with six competition lanes, as well as a full shower and locker rooms. 

Burnett, who has experience developing youth programs for athletes, said the position as the facility director at the Hornets Nest, located at 233 White Way St., was a “natural fit.”

“I have a passion for bringing rural kids opportunities that will let them go live a big life out there - wherever their heart takes them,” she said. “There are more limitations when you live in the country, and we’re hoping to give kids the opportunity to see bigger things and experience more through the Hornets Nest.”

Burnett grew up on a dairy farm and received a Division I scholarship to Emporia State University where she participated in basketball and track and field. After graduating from ESU, she spent three years at The University of Kansas where she was trained and coached by former Olympians for U.S. track and field.

She has a bachelor’s degree in commercial art and multimedia development and previously worked in sports media development for such clients as Nike and Wilsons Sports.

Burnett has been the director of the Hornets Nest for one month and she said the board of directors and staff members have several new programs they plan to set in motion by January.

“Our gymnastics program launched Monday,” Burnett said. “We’ve hired a wonderful director for the gymnastics program, Michele Rakestraw, and we’re building an upstairs studio for her that should be completed by January.”

Burnett described Rakestraw as a “competition level coach.”

“She understands child psychology and how to teach. As a coach, those are unique assets,” she said. “Coaching is a very special skill. It takes a special person to have that, and it’s hard to find.”

Burnett said that a “four-pronged” swimming program is being planned for the Hornet Nest’s pool.

The first prong is the center’s current aquatic classes, which fulfills a variety of needs for those seeking regular fitness or therapy due to an injury or for cancer, Burnett said. The second prong is a swim club for kids.

“We’re developing a swim club so we can teach kids techniques so they can go and be competitive,” she said. “It’s another scholarship opportunity. We’re just giving kids as many opportunities as we can.”

Third, the pool will be used for regular swim lessons and other life skills. The last prong of the program is to use the pool for youth triathlon training, she said.

“The NCAA and USA Triathlon just merged so there are now scholarship opportunities for kids in triathlon,” she said, noting that triatholons can be family focused, recreational or competitive. “Kids get amazing satisfaction out of completing one.”

To implement the new swimming program, Burnett said that the Hornets Nest is seeking a competitive level swim coach, as well as lifeguards to teach swim lessons. 

Besides gymnastics and the pool program, Burnett said that the Hornets Nest is also focusing on healthy eating.

“We have a full kitchen, and we are working on grants to provide healthy meals and family cooking courses,” she said. “We want people to understand portions and nutrition in order for them to reach their goals.”

Burnett said the Hornets Nest will continue to bring family oriented activities and events to members of the community, noting a large turnout for a recent Halloween barbecue honoring local heroes, which included members of the Kickapoo Police Department and area firefighters and emergency personnel. 

“One of my visions is to create that family integration again,” she said. “Family is getting lost in our society, and we’re trying to create some family programs on the weekends so people have a reason to come out.”

Burnett lives in Holton and has two children.

For more information about the Hornets Nest, visit www.hornets-nest.com or call 785-933-2616.

The Holton Recorder

109 W. Fourth St.
Holton, KS 66436
Phone: 785-364-3141

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