Emmah Burnes, a University of Minnesota Crookston freshman from Tulare, California, was offered a soccer scholarship to play as a Golden Eagle, and, in March 2023, she came to visit the campus. None of the other schools she toured felt like “home”, so she traveled almost 2,000 miles to check out northwest Minnesota.

“My first night in Crookston was a bit unsettling,” Burnes said. “It was dark, snowy, and only eight degrees outside, and I was in this unfamiliar small town.”

Burnes arrived at around five o’clock in the evening to check into the hotel; she was unsure about Crookston at first. However, once she arrived on campus the next morning, she knew she’d found her second home.

“My whole life changed that next morning,” she admitted.

Burnes was introduced to the soccer coaches, Neil Mancktelow and Morgan Philliber, and most of the team. She also got to sit in and watch a practice. Rachel was the name of her campus tour guide, and she gave Burnes a fun, positive experience.

“The real cherry on top, though, was Megan Bell,” Burnes added.

Megan Bell is an associate professor, as well as a communication advisor for U of M Crookston. Burnes and Bell met to discuss the communication program and what it entailed.

“Megan opened my eyes to everything UMC has to offer,” Burnes explained. “I’d never felt excited about my academic future until speaking with Megan. She was amazing.”

Burnes has been at U of M Crookston for a little over a month now, and she has loved every second. She says it is everything she was searching for in a university.

“My entire perspective on this small midwestern town has changed completely since that first night in the hotel,” she affirmed.

Burnes has been playing soccer for 13 years, and playing at a college level has always been a dream of hers. She has a sister who competes in Division I track, and a brother who played Division III football, so athletics are a big part of her family.

“My siblings were my biggest inspiration,” Burnes said. “I saw them doing it, so I knew I wanted to too.”

Burnes is also very family oriented. Her parents and grandparents are her biggest supporters.

“My parents were at every single game in high school, so it feels weird not seeing them in the stands,” she recalled. “But I always wave at the cameras because I know they’re watching.”

Burnes is extremely close with her grandparents, Papa Joe and Grandma Loretta. They attended every sports practice when Emmah was in high school, no matter the weather.

“After colder practices, my grandpa would take me to get hot chocolate…it was our tradition,” Burnes shared.

Her grandpa just got his first tattoo in honor of his granddaughter, who he misses dearly.

When Burnes isn’t playing soccer or doing schoolwork, she enjoys baking, journaling, and spending time with loved ones.


U of M Crookston Student Emmah Burnes

Burnes and fellow soccer teammates
Burnes and her parents
Burnes and her grandparents, Papa Joe and Grandma Loretta