Nov. 24, 2017

by Allegra Zamore

In order to someday coach or teach youth, Richard Burney has spent his time at the University soaking up all of the knowledge he can about how to be a better person and how to effectively change the lives of the people who surround him.

“I have always wanted to either be a coach or a teacher,” Burney said. “Obviously when you go to work you want to be doing something that you love and that you are passionate about.”

The tight end from Chesapeake loves the scheme of football and being around the sport in his everyday life. He plans to incorporate the lessons and advice he has learned during his time at UVA into his own future role with those younger than him.

“There are a lot of things that coaches teach you that help with your personal life, not just football,” Burney said. “A lot of the things that coach (Bronco) Mendenhall has instilled into the team I would definitely instill into kids as well. It’s something I would take pride in.”

Burney reflects on his time back home, coaching youth football and having the chance to impact young kids.

“I have had the opportunity to coach youth and give speeches about playing football and how to conduct yourself,” Burney said. “This is something I have always enjoyed doing because I love working with kids and helping people when I get the chance.”

The redshirt junior is currently studying American Studies with a concentration in popular and visual culture. He hopes that this will give him a greater understanding of today’s society and the differences that make up our culture.

“My favorite class so far has been one about Native American pop culture,” Burney said. “It was really interesting because we learned about a minority group that is often overlooked.”

Burney’s passion for hard work and learning more about the people and society that surround him is something that he plans to carry with him after he graduates.

“The most important thing I would teach is earned not given. It’s as simple as that,” Burney said. “You have to work for what you want, and if you get into the real world and can’t work hard then you won’t earn anything.”

He hopes that as a teacher he could focus on rewarding young children for doing well or getting good grades so that they have an incentive to keep working hard. Burney appreciates the life lessons like these that he has received from coach Mendenhall both on and off the field.

“He teaches us things that we never got at the high school level,” Burney said. “He really focuses on the deeper meaning behind how we are supposed to do things. His coaching and teachings are very researched based and that makes a huge difference.”

Burney feels that it is important to show that deeper meaning in order to make better connections to the game and to his teammates in every aspect of his life.

“I will never forget the friendships that I have made with the guys on this team,” Burney said. “I have made bonds that will never be broken and we are truly a band of brothers.”

Burney and his teammates have gone through incredibly challenging times together over the last few years, from military workouts to early mornings, that has only brought them closer together in the end.

“My teammates pushed me through those workouts when I thought I couldn’t finish,” Burney said. “It was such an amazing feeling when I got to the end knowing that I pushed through it and built that comradery with my teammates.”

Another way that Burney builds this comradery with his teammates is through Xbox, which he credits to his relaxation and future coaching skills.

“I am always on Xbox in my free time,” Burney said. “I love playing Madden with my teammates or my friends from home because I can take the things I have learned playing football and incorporate them into the actual video game.”

For Burney, the time he spends on the field and in the Charlottesville community is something he holds close.

“I chose to come to UVA mainly because of how close it is to home,” Burney said. “My parents make it to every single home game and it has been extremely important to have their support.

This support seems to radiate throughout the city of Charlottesville, and is something Burney has grown to appreciate over the last few years.

“Everybody seems to have each other’s backs,” Burney said. “Everyone sticks together and I really feel that sense of community.”

This community has given Burney the support and confidence to pursue his dream of helping other people who haven’t had the opportunities he’s been given. The important life lessons that he has learned won’t be going away any time soon as he aims to instill that dedication and passion into a career that he loves.