Member Spotlight: Dontae Burnett

“My journey at Aztec Rec is parallel to my life story. I had to try more than once before I won it.”
“My journey at Aztec Rec is parallel to my life story. I had to try more than once before I won it.”

It’s no coincidence that Dontae Burnett won the 3rd Annual Cal Coast Credit Union slam dunk contest. Although it was his first win at the competition, it was his 3rd attempt for the honors. Burnett says, “My journey at Aztec Rec is parallel to my life story. I had to try more than once before I won it.”

For Burnett embracing failure is what sets him apart. Growing up with his four brothers in the Midwest he participated from an early age in football, basketball and baseball. The brothers were fearless and competitive, doing gymnastics from playground structures and pushing their athletic skills to the limit. Burnett was a top athlete his whole youth, but as a high school senior, the basketball coach cut him from the team. Burnett responded by proceeded to get a full college scholarship at Kalamazoo. After one year there, an opportunity in California moved him to San Diego where he now studies marketing at SDSU. But marketing is Burnett’s plan “B” for right now. Plan “A” is to see where basketball can take him.

Dontae not only carries a full course load, he also has an NASM personal training certificate, weight trains four times per week, personal trains others several mornings each week, plays six hours of basketball every week at the ARC, and does several hours of intense basketball cardio drills regularly. That regimen keeps him fit and leaping so he is ready for try-outs for the semi-professional league teams when there is an opportunity. To date, Burnett has played briefly as a point guard for one American Basketball Association (ABA) team, and tried out for two other ABA teams as well as one USBL team.

Burnett didn’t land on marketing from the start of his higher education. He switched over from accounting but says he began dreading the accounting school work and now he finds he loves the marketing coursework. “It’s a perfect fit for my entrepreneurial mind,” he says. Burnett is currently learning more about our SDSU Zahn Entrepreneur Center – a program that helps students bring technology innovations to market. He says he has an idea related to fitness and technology that might be a match for the program.

“Dunking is something that everyone who ever played basketball wants to be able to do,” he says. And Burnett can fly. In the context of a slam dunk competition, it’s more than getting to the rim, it’s about tricks, flexibility and ball handling skills. Burnett says that despite his early youth focus on the traditional sports, tennis was a huge attraction, “Because it’s a finesse game.” Watch this video to see his winning dunk.

Dontae lives by this theme: “Focus on a plan ‘B’ but don’t give up on your dreams.”

by Amy Bekken Schiller

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