Souhegan team mourns death in Boston of a 'great, great kid'
Players on the Souhegan High School basketball team took time Sunday to share memories of friend and former teammate Anthony Barksdale II of Amherst, who died early Saturday after being found unconscious at a Boston apartment.
Barksdale graduated from Souhegan last year and was a freshman engineering student at Boston University. The cause of death remained unclear, although police did say there were no visible injuries or signs of trauma.
"It's shocking and it's sad," Souhegan basketball coach Mike Heaney said Sunday. "Tony was just a great, great kid. Sometimes that's probably overused in situations like this, but Tony really was."
Barksdale received awards for scholastic excellence and humanities last June for Souhegan's Class of 2012. He played football for the Sabers and was a varsity basketball player his junior and senior year.
He wasn't the biggest or most talented player on the roster, but Heaney said he was the most dependable, content with being a role player who led his teammates by working the hardest.
Barksdale received the Coach's Award during Souhegan's team banquet last year.
"He represented what we want Souhegan basketball players to be - in the classroom, on the court and off the court," Heaney said.
Souhegan is preparing to open the Division II state playoffs this week. Heaney said there are nine seniors on the roster; seven of them were playing with Barksdale a year ago. After a practice Sunday, the players gathered for lunch at Heaney's home. The coach had each one who knew Barksdale share a memory.
Heaney recalled a particularly grueling drill that most players dreaded, but Barksdale stood smiling at the end of it.
"Even in a drill that's supposed to be tough and test you a little bit, he was smiling and laughing. He just loved being in a gym," Heaney said.
Boston University had several grief counselors available for students Sunday. Barksdale died at St. Elizabeth's Medical Center, several hours after police were called to an off-campus apartment in the Allston section of Boston.
According to BU Today, a university website, Barksdale lived in Boston University's Towers residence and was a member of Sigma Alpha Mu.
The emergency call came in around 1 a.m. from 22 Wadsworth St. Boston Police are handling the investigation.
"What a terrible loss," BU spokesman Colin Riley said Sunday. "Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and classmates."
BU Today posted reader comments, which included condolences and in some cases, memories of Barksdale.
One came from a person listed only as "Friend from Home."
"Heart, Hustle and Hope Tony was the epitome of those 3 words but much more than that ... He was simply the kindest soul I ever knew."