Memphis trainer finds motivation through brother’s murder

“I have to workout myself,” said Burse. She maintains a healthy diet by eating a lot of protein, organic veggies and a minimum of carbs.


Training has made Britney Burse’s body strong, but the death of her younger brother in 2013, made her spiritually stronger than she ever thought possible.

“Britney, I need you to sit down and I need you to be strong,” are the words Vickie Burse told her daughter.

Seconds after, her life changed forever.

“I dropped to my knees and I couldn’t feel anything,” Burse said.

The unthinkable happened. Someone murdered Burse’s younger brother, Barry.

“It was something I didn’t expect. Burse said.  “It’s been two years and four months, but I hold a lifetime of pain because I miss him so much.”

Burse visits Barry’s gravesite once a week, she doesn’t ever miss. Nevertheless, as you can imagine, she said it never gets easier.

Now, as a woman, who trains football and basketball players, she’s already broken barriers. Burse is an African American business owner, youth advocate and mentor. She’s taken her skills everywhere and has done a bit of everything.

Her late brother, was her first training client. She trained him to enhance his soccer skills and prep him for try outs for a semi-pro team.Now that he’s gone, she’s turned her attention to children who lack opportunities and have limited resources for one-on-one training.

According to a study at Yale, children growing up in low income areas are more likely to commit crimes. Burse wants to give children in low income areas in Memphis a resource and opportunity to be different.

“I do this because, I don’t want what happened to my brother to happen to someone else,” Burse said.

City of Memphis employee, Deborah Rivers, has been studying poverty and crime rates for the past few years. She said crime has increased drastically, listing half of the city’s children below the poverty line.

“Poverty and crime go together very well,” Rivers said.

According to Rivers, most crimes happen because children lack opportunity.

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“If a child has only grown up around bad things, then all they are going to know are bad things,” Rivers said.

Burse has always wanted to give back to children. The death of her brother, only gave her more inspiration.

In 2010, she started her own business, Limitless Fitness Training. The business originated from doing a school practicum to get credit hours. While in school, Burse did free training for AAU Summer league teams of all sorts and recreational basketball teams in the low income poverty areas.

She designed physical activity programs for children at various locations and incorporated educational components. She used subjects such as geometry to describe basketball plays and had students turn in written self assessments and evaluations to practice writing skills. “I like to have fun and embrace both fitness and education,” Burse said.

After building a bond with children, she said she then realized it was more than just sports.

“I noticed I was literally having an impact on the children’s lives,” Burse said.

At this moment, Burse was living out her dreams. Everything in her life seemed perfect, until she received the phone call from her mother about her brother.

After Barry’s funeral, Burse put everything on hold to be a shoulder to lean on for her parents.

“I appreciate her will and selflessness more than she could ever understand,” Vickie Burse said.

After readjusting to life without her brother, Burse decided to get her master’s degree in education.

“My brother was my motivation,” she said. “He’s no longer here and I live for the both of us.”

Shortly after starting her masters online at Grand Canyon University, she landed a job at Sheffield High School as the physical education teacher. Sheffield is in the Fox Meadow area of Memphis. There she instructed fitness and conditioning classes, mentored and tutored students and coached the basketball and track teams. She now teaches and coaches at Cordova High School.

“It’s rare that you see a woman connect with youth with hardcore sports,” Rivers said.

Burse picks students up voluntarily before school and takes them home after practice if parents aren’t available. Aside from school, she also uses weekends and personal time to make sure students get the time and help they need whether it’s about homework or sports. She’s majorly involved in her young clients and students lives to make sure they are safe and away from danger as much as possible.

In 2014, the Memphis crime rates raised nearly 12 percent.

“I come across several stories just like Burse’s and there aren’t many people taking a call to action to help like she is,” Rivers said.

Burse admits that all she’s done within the community doesn’t ease the pain of losing her brother. But, it indeed helps knowing that she is a role model for many teenagers that are around his age.

“I train and I coach, but most importantly I’m a role model and a mentor for the students Burse said.


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About the Author

Erika R. Draper
Erika R. Draper writes for the Black Reflections section of the Memphis Mirror. When the U of M senior isn't working for the Mirror, she enjoys public speaking, being on camera, photography, dancing and writing. She interned during the summer of 2015 at KWTX’s News 10 in Waco, TX. She is currently a Digital Production intern for WMC Action News in Memphis.

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