The Farewell Tour

Seattle Pacific’s star gymnast Darian Burns hopes to “appreciate gymnastics” during her last year

Kyle Morrison, Staff Reporter


Darian Burns walked into Weter Hall Feb. 17 with a smile and a backpack full of school work. To many she seemed like a normal college student going through the challenges of senior year, but what many people don’t realize is that she has meant so much more to the Seattle Pacific University and the SPU gymnastics program, which have been her home for the last four years. Spending time with her, one will almost always notice, a bubbly smile and an undeniable sense of dignity and accomplishment. 

Darian Burns should be a household name and face for Falcon fans. 

As a freshman, she won the floor exercise individual title for the United States of America Gymnastics division, sharing the Gold medal with Briana Comport from Bridgeport College. 

Last year, Burns claimed the most illustrious individual trophy in the USAG by winning the all around title. She is the fifth SPU gymnast ever to win a national title and is by far the most decorated athlete on campus.

Despite all her individual accolades, Burns is dedicated to her team first and foremost. 

“I never go out with the intention of individualism when I’m competing,” Burns said. “Club gymnastics is very individualistic … when I got to college it became a lot more fun when it wasn’t just about you and what you did.”

The road to greatness for Burns started in Detroit, Michigan which was her first home before moving to Atlanta at the age of six for the latter part of her childhood. Her love for gymnastics spurred from what she deems as a “random decision.” 

“I got into gymnastics when I was five or six … I had done a karate class once but that didn’t work, I had done ballet but all I’d do is cry all the time. One time my mom was like, ‘Hey we can try gymnastics,’ and we went and signed up at Armington Hills Gymnastics,” Burns said. “I liked it and my mom was like, ‘Of course you like the most expensive sport. Okay, cool.’”

Up until college, Burns bounced around from gym to gym, competing in the club gymnastics scene around the Atlanta area. She attributes her decision to come to SPU to her love for the city of Seattle as well as her love for her teammates and coaches— most notably, former Falcon assistant coach Carly Dockendorf. 

“I absolutely loved Carly. I was like ‘anything you tell me to do I want to do because you told me to do it,’” Burns said. 

Since coming to SPU, Burns has become a gymnastics legend, and she’s looking forward to capping off her career in a very special way. 

“I think this team is very special … The goal is for us to, bare minimum, qualify to nationals as a team. We have never done that in my four years at SPU” Burns said.

As far as her personal goals for the rest of the season, Burns is taking a very holistic approach to her individual season.

“While I still think I can do great things and I hope for those things to happen, my goal for this year is to appreciate gymnastics as its whole being because it’s my last time, these last moments doing this sport,” Burns said. 

Burns had a very special final moment at Royal Brougham this Friday as she recorded the second best floor exercise in Falcon gymnastics history with a score of 9.925. This ties her with Corrie McDaniel (2002) and Ariana Harger (2016) on the all-time list. She only trails the 9.950 recorded by Callie Filed in 2000. 

Looking forward, Darian Burns hopes to move back to Atlanta and pursue her master’s degree in public policy, which she hopes will lead her to a career in housing policy. 

No matter what she does going forward, Darian Burns has left a lasting impact on the SPU gymnastics and athletic program, and the story of her illustrious career is not over yet. 

“I’ve done a lot of great things in my gymnastics career, and if I had to leave that today for any reason, I would definitely be satisfied,” Burns said. 

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story referred to former Assistant Coach Carly Dockendorf as former Falcon gymnast Carly Kano.