“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.”
The 2021 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and star of the Northwestern Wildcats Women’s Basketball team, Veronica Burton has been lauded for her skills on the court and her leadership away from the game as well. Burton quickly made her name known for the Wildcats, starting 31 games and leading the Big Ten in steals in just her freshman year. As she has continued to grow on the court and was even selected to the 2021 USA Women’s AmeriCup Team, it has been faith that has driven Veronica to where she is today.
A native of Newton, Massachusetts, Veronica says faith has always been a priority for her in her life. “From a really young age my parents taught me the importance of having a strong relationship with God and how it needs to be the number one priority in my life.” Veronica’s mom, Ginni, says that from the beginning she wanted to make sure faith was key in her kids’ lives. “We pray for our children. We guide them in decision making and certainly hope they choose well. But at the end of the day, their walk is theirs. We hope they choose well. We pray they have a heart for God. And we love them every step of the way.” Ginni says she can’t imagine doing it all without her faith to guide her. “To be honest, I don’t know how parents do it without faith. There are so many ups and downs. There is so much we can’t control. As parents, we do our best…and trust God with the rest.”
As Veronica became a star during her high school years at Newton South, she soon chose Northwestern as the place where she would spend the next four years of her life. Veronica says that since becoming a Wildcat, her faith has only continued to grow. “When I was younger I did not always fully understand the idea of faith or just how powerful God was in my life. But especially when I went to college and was more on my own, my faith has grown tremendously. I have seen the way my life has changed when God is at the forefront of it, and so I continue to try to strengthen my faith everyday as best I can.” Veronica says that each time she takes the court, she looks to use her gifts as an opportunity to point others to God. “I am ultimately playing to Glorify God rather than playing for myself. I think it is really easy to get caught up in accolades and performances, but my faith keeps me grounded and allows me to be confident in Christ.”
During her time at Northwestern, Veronica says that the relationships she has formed with teammates and friends have been paramount in helping her grow both on and off the court. Her boyfriend, Greg Newsome II, was selected by the Cleveland Browns in the 1st round of the 2021 NFL Draft out of Northwestern. As both Veronica and Greg pursue their athletic dreams, Veronica says faith remains key in both of their lives and their spiritual and athletic journeys. Throughout all the uncertainties of life, Veronica says faith helps remind her that God is in control, even after tough performances. “One of the biggest things I struggle with in my sport is my confidence, especially after a bad game. But after reading the Word and talking with my parents about having confidence in God rather than in myself, it just eases my mind and allows me to feel comfort knowing that everything is in His control and realizing just how powerful He is. My faith encourages me to live for God rather than for others- and just helps keep me grounded in knowing that my purpose is bigger than basketball.”
Ginni Burton says she is so proud of Veronica and how she has grown. Although her skills on the court are tremendous, Ginni says who she is becoming off of it is what matters most. “We never imagined her playing for Team USA as 1 of 12 collegiate basketball players representing our country, but that’s the God we serve. We are so thankful, too, for her leadership in her college community. Veronica has a quiet strength that is based on her faith and for that we are so truly grateful.” As Veronica takes that leadership to new heights approaching her senior year at Northwestern, she remains focused on using each time she takes the court as an opportunity to uplift and inspire others.