“I’ve heard him sing,” Burson said. “He’s pretty good. There’s even a video of him singing. He’s pretty good. We haven’t had a sing-off yet, but I think it’s a great idea.”
Until that time comes, Burson, a junior, is content with focusing on other things. One of Pope’s standout wrestlers, he’s preparing for the stretch run of the season, which begins this weekend with the Area 7AAAAA tournament and is followed by the state sectional and state traditional championships.
Like every wrestler, Burson would like to win an area championship and eventually go on to capture a state championship or at least place at the state tournament, which he did last year by finishing fourth in Class AAAAA at 138 pounds. He was a state qualifier as a freshman.
A three-time Cobb County champion, an area title would be a first for Burson, who wrestles at 152 pounds. He’s compiled a 51-7 record this season and is 118-40 in his career.
Burson’s exploits on the mats have been impressive, but so have his endeavors off of them. A member of the Johnson Ferry Baptist Church choir, and its smaller ensemble group, he practices with each group on Sundays and takes part in their volunteer programs and singing events.
A tenor, Burson started singing with the choir in eighth grade. His current chorus group has about 120 members while the ensemble choir is roughly 14. He traveled with the choir to Poland during his freshman year at Pope and visited New York last season. The group is scheduled to go to San Francisco this year.
“I joined the choir because I just liked singing,” Burson said. “I have been involved with some musical productions in middle school and I heard a lot of good things about the Johnson Ferry choir and wanted to join. It gave me an opportunity to sing and to sing with praise.”
Burson’s choir commitment came shortly after his athletic pursuits. He joined the youth football program as a fifth grader and started wrestling in the sixth grade.
“I’ve really enjoyed participating in athletics,” Burson said. “My dad (Tim) pressured me to join the wrestling team and I believe it’s the best thing I’ve ever done. I’ve really enjoyed it and it helps make everything else enjoyable.
“I attribute my success to the people around me. I’m a direct product of their investment in me. I’ve had great coaches who’ve taught me well and my parents have supported the whole way.”
A running back and linebacker for the Greyhounds, he’s continued to play football, wrestle and sing throughout high school and even joined the Pope choir last semester before giving it up this semester.
It was from watching Burson in the choir room that Haskin really came to reflect on the type of person Burson is.
“My room is right across from (Burson) so I can see him in there,” Haskin said. “I look at him and just think how he’s such a well-rounded kid. He’s brilliant, inquisitive, book-smart… he asks questions about everything.
“He wants to know the how’s and why’s of what we do in the wrestling room. He wants to understand the movements and how they work. He asks questions all of the time to get better. He’s done a fantastic job since coming up through our junior program. Everything he’s put his mind to, he’s good at. He’s a fun kid to coach.”
Burson’s inquisitive nature has helped him achieve a 4.35 grade-point average at Pope. A member and volunteer with the National Honor Society, he’s also part of an east Cobb student-run organization that puts on a benefit concert called “Breaking the Shackles” to help fight “modern-day slavery in Atlanta and internationally,” Burson said.
Burton said the money donated from the concert goes to youthSpark and the International Justice Mission to help fight sex trafficking, sexual exploitation and oppression.
“I’ve had some struggles juggling the things that I do, especially when multiple things collide,” Burson said. “But I tend to be able to deal with it all pretty consistently.”
Burson competes in wrestling year-round, but his time on the mat slows down in the fall so he can play football. When the time is right, perhaps Haskin will be willing to see who is the better singer.
“We might have a national anthem sing-off or something,” Haskin said.
Maybe we could even do a duet,” Burson said.