NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Eric Susewind's name is still revered in the Nashville soccer community today, not only for of his phenomenal talent, but because of the compassion he showed for people. His mission was to make the sport of soccer accessible to all, regardless of their socio-economic background.
Susewind tragically passed away at the age of 28 in an automobile accident southeast of Nashville on June 16, 2013.
"Eric embodied the persona of a nickname he picked up when playing for the Nashville Metros," said Phil Susewind, Eric's little brother. "They made a mistake announcing his name at a game and accidentally called him 'Zeus'. He was not a god, but he did live his life for God and Christian values, principles and teachings."
He was a four-year letterwinner in his decorated soccer career for Belmont, received second team All-Atlantic Sun honors twice, and served as team captain for the Bruins from 2004-07. He also remains fifth all-time in the Bruins record book for assists in a season (5).
After his collegiate soccer career, Susewind spent five years with Belmont as an assistant coach and joined nearby Cumberland University's women's soccer program as a coach in 2012. The Houston, Texas native also served as a youth coach at the Tennessee Soccer Club and other surrounding youth soccer organizations.
"Eric was a tremendously talented player who was capable of being at any position on the field. Whether he was playing centerback, midfield or an attacking position, he excelled with his skill and creativity," said Bruins soccer alumnus Ben Fisher. "Most importantly he was a tremendous teammate and friend to all, you could always count on a laugh when Suse was around the locker room or the team van. It is wonderful to see how his name has lived on in the Nashville soccer community."
His memory still lives on through the Eric Susewind Memorial Scholarship Fund, which was created by Belmont soccer alumni Carey Alexander, Mark Photivihok, Eric Pittel, Kyle Roelke and friends of the Susewind family.
The fund serves Nashville's underprivileged and refugee communities, giving hundreds of young players the opportunity to learn and play the game of soccer.
"Eric Susewind was a good friend and teammate to many of us at the Nashville United Soccer Association and was always passionate about teaching young players the game of soccer," said NUSA Executive Director Robbie Stewart. "The yearly donation from the Susewind Memorial Scholarship Fund has been instrumental in supporting the program.
The annual Swinging for Suse Summer Golf Classic, set to be held August 26 at Temple Hills Country Club in Franklin, Tenn., goes to support financial aid for players at multiple local organizations.
"I can't begin to express my gratitude and what this has meant to me," said Bonnie Susewind, Eric's mother. "This group has preserved this time in their lives to remember my son."