Siblings Adam and Nikki Burish share more than just the connection of being a brother and sister that hail from the city of Madison. They might even have more in common than the average brother and sister in that they share a common bond that has always included a love for the game of hockey and the thrill of competition for as long as they both can remember. Both Nikki and Adam have carried their alliance all the way to UW in becoming the first brother-sister combination in UW hockey history.
Adam and Nikki Burish, now each in their second year for the Badgers, have taken different paths in becoming an integral part of their respective teams. Yet both are quite similar in more ways than one, although Adam has a year up on his sister in age. Both Nikki and Adam have been playing hockey since the age of three, and while each pursued other sports avenues such as soccer and golf in high school, hockey still remained their ultimate passion.
Nikki, a sophomore forward for the Badgers, has found her place on the women’s hockey team after spending her high school days in a setting unfamiliar to most girls. She became the first girl on the Madison Edgewood boy’s hockey team while playing alongside her brother. While most girls may feel uncomfortable or intimidated by playing with the guys, Nikki has taken the experience in strides and used it to ready herself for hockey at the collegiate level by being better prepared physically and mentally.
“It wasn’t intimidating at all, it was a lot of fun. It was really competitive and physical, but I hung in there and kept up with it,” Badger forward Nikki Burish said. “The boys’ game is a lot faster and a lot more physical, so it really helped me with my quickness here in the girls’ game and the mental aspect of it as well. I felt if I could play with the boys, then I could play with the girls.”
Adam and Nikki didn’t take it easy on each other in high school, especially Adam, who treated Nikki just like one of his teammates.
“She was actually tougher than most of the guys I hung out with. The guys accepted her and she wanted to be treated like one of the guys.”
Last season Nikki tallied seven goals and eight assists for the team in contributing 15 points, while leading all freshmen and scoring and finishing ninth on the team in points and tying for fifth in goals.
Adam, also a sophomore forward this season for the Badgers, played for the Green Bay Gamblers of the USHL following high school. He ended up leading the team in goal-scoring lead and led the team with 12 power plays and eight game-winning goals. Adam was named a USHL All-Star and was drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2002 NHL draft in the ninth round. The next year, Adam found himself at UW with valuable experience, as he recorded assists in three consecutive games with the Badgers.
“It was a year for me to grow and mature and a year to be away from home,” Adam Burish said. “You’re playing against the top prospects in the country who will play college and playing three games a week, which is hard on your body; so playing so many games gets you ready for the college game.”
For both Adam and Nikki, hopefully, their fortunes have changed for the better this season. The injury bug has bitten them numerous times throughout their hockey career. Last season Nikki played in only 20 games due to a broken femur, and Adam was forced to sit out with an injury after playing in just 19 games. Both agreed it was frustrating watching the game from the stands when they could have been on the ice helping their team.
When asked if they possess similar personalities on the ice, both agreed they bring to the table competitiveness, a feisty attitude, speed and a strong determination.
“We’re close in a lot of things, but she’s a little more stubborn than I am off the ice, especially when she sets her mind to something,” Adam said.
Now Adam and Nikki will take on a greater role this season for their teams. Each will be looked upon for leadership as well as scoring goals and getting after the puck.
It takes a lot for brothers and sisters to play the same sport and take center stage. Sibling rivalry maybe isn’t the right expression, as the rivalries between the two took on a much more friendly nature. Both challenged each other to be better and work harder.
“He was older, I always looked up to him and tried to mirror what he did,” Nikki said.
However, both grew up playing together, learning together and from each other, and dreaming of playing for the team they watched together — the Badgers.
But when the skates come off, they are still siblings who are very close to each other. Even with conflicting schedules, each Burish tries to follow the other’s game when they are on road trips.
“I talk to him mostly every day. I go to his games when I’m in town and whenever he’s in town he comes to mine,” Nikki said.
“We really are close friends and we talk mostly every day about how hockey and school are going,” said Adam. “It’s hard to explain. [If you] just stick together and if you both have the same passion and same drive, it will make you that much closer. It’s unbelievable playing the same sport for the same school. It’s a dream for both of us and we’re living that right now.”