AMHERST, N.Y. (WIVB) – Becky Burke had no idea one of the biggest moments of her life would go viral as she proposed to her now fiancé, Savannah.
“We posted it to TikTok just to post it, see if our friends would view it, get five views or whatever. I mean, it’s got almost 6 million views. It has almost 6 million views, 1 million likes,” Burke told News 4 Sports.
But the comments were even better.
“High school basketball players, young female athletes, coaches that reached out, news outlets, random people that aren’t even in athletics but are maybe struggling with their identity, you name it, they reached out to both her or I so it was really cool to see the impact.”
After a practice in mid December, Becky gathered her team at center court to shoot a “holiday greeting video” – but that was never actually the plan. Only a few people knew this gathering would soon turn into an engagement.
“It was seamless, flawless, and it was a dream just how it played out just so perfectly. I couldn’t have imaged it being any better,” Becky said.
And somehow it did get better. The response was beyond anything they could have imagined when posting the video.
“People that have just reached out to me and said ‘you have helped me so much just by sharing this clip’ and seeing the emotion in your players and the confidence that you have in your relationship,” Becky said, smiling.
This is Becky’s first season as UB women’s basketball head coach and since Day One she has brought that genuine, not-afraid-to-be-who-you-are attitude to this program. And that’s translated to her current players and even possible future players.
“I’ve got such rewarding and incredible feedback in the recruiting world about how so many coaches try to hide who they are and try to hide who their family is and try to hide the lives they live outside of the court. And I don’t go around parading who I love and the relationship that I’m in but I also don’t hide it either,” Becky explained.
Earlier this month, UB women’s basketball hosted a Pride Night as part of Rising Coaches’ Equality and Inclusion initiative.
“I do think that a lot of head coaches especially at this level are a lot older than I am, so maybe it’s just we’re evolving into a new age where I can start the precedent and help be that person that really helps coaches and people that work in athletics not be afraid to be who they are. I think there’s a way to do that that’s subtle yet just not ashamed and I think I’ve been trying to be that.”
As you can tell by their reaction to her engagement, players are happy Becky doesn’t hide who she is, either.
“To see how happy and excited everybody else was for us, that just warms your heart. It was a really special feeling seeing all of their genuine reactions and that’s why I didn’t want anybody to know because I look back at those pictures and they’re just so raw and the emotion and the happiness,” Becky said.
That’s part of the reason Becky wanted to do it at Alumni Arena in front of people that have now become their family.
“This has been the place we’ve spent the most time since we’ve been here in Buffalo. This is the place that I remember her being here with me at my press conference,” Becky reflected.
“For our journey together in our relationship, this has been a huge piece of it. And I didn’t necessarily want to do it in front of my players, we just wanted to be surrounded by our people, and our players are our family and those are our people – my staff are our people.”
Even months later, people are still reaching out to her about the video.
“I haven’t been through one handshake line without one of the girls pulling me and saying I saw your engagement, congratulations. And these are, like, our opposing teams so it’s really crazy how much traction it’s picked up,” Becky said.
And that attention is something both Becky and Savannah are hoping can inspire others.
“I think sometimes I don’t really realize that being in this seat and having the platform that I do affects so many other people. So if I can even help a couple people feel more confident in who they are and wanting to live their true lives then I’ll consider that a success,” Becky said.
Her message to anyone watching the video or looking at the engagement pictures is simple.
“This life is too short to not love who you wanna love, be who you are, be supported by the people that love you and at the end of the day be not afraid to do that.”
Heather Prusak is a sports reporter who joined the News 4 team in 2020. See more of her work here.