BATESVILLE, Ark. (LyonScots.com) – Lyon College soccer player Barry Burse knew from the first day he stepped on the practice field at Lyon College in 2012 that he had his work cut out for him. But throughout his freshman year he continued to fight through adversity to become the best player possible in the most successful season in the history of the Scots' program.
Burse, 19, died Monday in his hometown of Memphis, Tenn. in a tragic incident that has left his team and the rest of the Lyon community in shock. Details on the event are still sketchy. His funeral arrangements are currently pending, according to his mother, Vickie Burse. Vickie, who is a member of the Lyon Scots Athletic Booster Club, and Barry's father, Barry Burse, Sr., reside in Memphis.
Barry is survived by his parents, one brother, Jaylen Walton, who will be a sophomore running back at Ole Miss this fall, two sisters and a number of other extended family members.
Barry Burse came to Lyon College in the fall of 2012 after graduating from Whitehaven High School, in Memphis, last year. He came from a high school of approximately 2,500 students, making the adjustment to a smaller town and a small college campus (600 students) in north central Arkansas.
The midfielder had a lot to prove at Lyon and he gave his an all-out effort and approached his opportunity with a mindset that he would make a difference on the Scots' team last fall, according to teammate Stuart Bramley, who is now a senior defender on the squad.
"Barry didn't play much, but he always thought in his mind that he would make a difference here," Bramley said after hearing the news of his teammates' death. "His determination was endless! He would run through players at practice just to show he was trying and that he deserved to be here.
"He had a very strong personality when it came to soccer. He would be so strong-minded that no matter what anyone said about his inability to make the team, he would disagree and push through. But it was his strong will to persevere that made everyone see that deep down Barry was determined and we respected him dearly for that attitude."
Burse's teammates jokingly nicknamed him the ‘One Goal Wonder' early in the 2012 season, Bramley said. He only had the opportunity to play in one game, a Sept. 15 contest against Texas College. But he made the most of his opportunity when he stepped on the pitch and scored his only collegiate goal on his first touch of the game.
"(Lyon Head) Coach (Michael Brookshire) brought Barry in to make one run and he scored on his first touch; it was great!" Bramley remembered. "We all went crazy when he scored! It was a great memory."
Burse earned the respect of his teammates not only for his play in practice, but the support he showed when he didn't travel with the squad. A number of them left posts on Facebook on Tuesday after hearing of his death.
"Off the field he was a great guy to the lads and the community," Bramley stated. "He always loved the game of soccer and his favorite team was Manchester United (English soccer club). His passion was amazing to see. He was always a friendly person around campus and had a smile on his face when he was out and about. He never had a bad thing to say about anyone.
"The news of his death is very shocking to the entire team I know that it was very upsetting to all the players and coaches and everyone that knew him."
Burse was part of the best men's soccer team in Lyon College history a year ago. The program won more games (13) and finished with its best record (13-3-2, .867), while earning the first national Top 25 ranking ever.
Former Lyon College assistant coach Kevin Lebeurre said Burse was a great supporter of the team, even when he didn't travel on road trips.
"When we would come back from a game out of town and he wasn't with us he was always waiting for us when we arrived, whether it was late or not," said Lebeurre, who now resides in his home country of France. "Sometimes he would come and help take the jerseys to the laundry. He was always doing whatever we asked of him.
"Outside soccer he a great kid and we could tell he was well raised. He was always very respectful to me and treated me very well.
"This is tragic for his family, who I met a couple of times when they came to campus. They can be proud that, while he was here, he earned a lot of respect from his teammates and those he attended class with.
"I really felt I lost a real friend. I remember on my last day at Lyon when he told me that he would miss me. Today, I miss him."
Lyon College Director of Athletics Kevin Jenkins said it's especially sad any time a young person's life abruptly ends. But it hits close to home when it's someone known personally.
"This is tragic and our hearts go out to Barry's family and friends because of their loss. Life is precious and when someone young dies it's especially hard. We pray for his family as they attempt to deal with these circumstances."