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Friday November 2, 2012

Erin Bursey

Psychology graduate, athlete, high achiever. Born June 22, 1991, in Weybridge, Nfld., died June 26, 2012, in St. John's in a vehicle-pedestrian accident, aged 21.

There is a kind of star called a Wolf-Rayet star, which burns hot and dies young. Erin Bursey was our star, who tragically lost her life a few days after a vehicle-pedestrian accident in St. John's.

Erin was a vibrant, beautiful 21-year-old: a brilliant student, an accomplished athlete and an outstanding friend and family member.

She graduated from Memorial University with an honours degree in psychology, and just two days prior to her accident she had been named to the Dean's List.

She was captain of the Sea-Hawks women's volleyball team at Memorial, an Academic All-Canadian and a fierce competitor.

At five-foot-five, Erin was one of the smallest left-side attackers in Canadian inter-university volleyball, but her lack of height did not stop her from being an outstanding attacker and one of the best defensive players in the country.

Erin was born on Random Island in the small community of Weybridge, Nfld. She spent her formative years climbing over much of the island and every piece of furniture and equipment in her school and home. She even climbed out of Grade 2 into Grade 4, skipping Grade 3.

At 11, Erin found one of the true passions of her life: volleyball. She was not tall, but had the ability to jump and the determination and tenacity to be the best.

She moved with her parents to St. John's and earned a reputation as one of the top high-school volleyball players in the province. So it was no surprise that Erin stood out both on the court and in the classroom when she moved on to Memorial University.

She was extremely demanding of herself and of her teammates, and could sometimes rub others the wrong way. One of her greatest strengths was that she recognized her flaws and looked for ways to improve so she could be a better person, friend and teammate.

Erin was one of the driving forces to have all Sea-Hawks athletes sign organ donor cards. Her heart, lungs, kidneys and other organs were donated after she died and have helped people across the country.

While in university, she volunteered a couple of mornings a week with Street Reach - a support program for youth - and helped with a needle-exchange program. She found a real connection with these youngsters who often fell through the cracks and needed help. Erin was also a volunteer volleyball coach at a local junior high school.

Erin is sadly missed by her family, teammates and friends. Her funeral, at Memorial's Field House where she played for so many years, was attended by 1,100 people.

A scholarship fund, the Erin Bursey Leadership Award, has been established at Memorial to remember her life.

Bill Thistle was Erin's volleyball coach.

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