December 20, 1991-June 26, 2017

Austin Levi Burdick was born in Warrenton, Va., on December 20, 1991 along with his twin brother, Tyler, to Dr. Todd Burdick and Jane C. Burdick. His mother predeceased him in 2015.

By all accounts, Austin was a devoted son and beloved member of the community. The words most often used to describe him were honest, kind, happy and of good character. A young man of many talents, he earned his Eagle Scout status with three palms, achieved a 2nd degree black belt in taekwondo, and graduated from the University of Virginia where he studied biology and was a member of the Virginia Polo program. His love of the outdoors and his innate artistic ability found expression in his oil paintings and in the sensitive way he connected with his cherished polo ponies.

Austin Burdick. Photo courtesy of Tony Gibson.

Austin Burdick. Photo courtesy of Tony Gibson

Coach Lou Lopez of the Virginia Polo programs remembers Austin well from having mentored him for three years during high school and during the four years he spent at UVA.

“The two brothers almost were inseparable, sometimes even hard to tell apart from a distance, working as a team in their studies and around the stables,” said Lopez. “Austin was a very good rider on any horse. He took particular pride in handling the most difficult horse and getting more out of that horse than anyone else.”

In fact, according to Lopez the most challenging horse, “Kisimmi,” became Austin’s favorite, and she was “made a gift to him upon graduation to start his career.” But more than anything, Lopez feels that Austin will best be remembered for his kindness, quiet strength and good nature.

Fellow UVA polo graduate Julia Steiner of Foxlease Polo Club in Upperville spoke of how Austin frequently gave his time to both the girls and boys teams, offering to help out and practice together. Steiner played with Austin at Great Meadow in The Plains, as well, and she noted he was “a fair player, generous person, and always fun to play with,” no matter which side he was on. At the time we spoke, Foxlease was planning to honor Austin at its NYTS Youth Tournament on July 29.

Austin’s father, Dr. Todd Burdick, has been comforted by the huge outpouring of support he has received from the community. He wants his son to be remembered not only for what he accomplished, but also for his “good character, the way he stayed calm and happy, playing to have fun.” Austin paid careful attention to the safety of the horses and riders, making sure that no detail was forgotten.

Dr. Burdick said, “Besides being my son, he was a very good friend to me. And I appreciate all the people who have reached out to me with their kindness and support.”

An open memorial service for Austin was held on July 24 at Great Meadow to celebrate his life. Additionally, the Austin Burdick Memorial Polo Scholarship Fund has been established and will be awarded to a UVA student active in Virginia Polo based upon character and academic achievement. Donations may be sent to the fund c/o Todd Burdick, 13296 Crest Hill Road, Flint Hill, VA. ML