Northeast Tarrant

Former Birdville soccer player dies in fall from cliff in Austin

A former Birdville High School student died this week after falling from a cliff near Austin, according to a statement from Southwestern University in Georgetown.

Thomas White, a soccer player for the university’s Pirates, died in an accident at Barton Creek Greenbelt in west Austin on Monday, the university said.

White, 20, had been a standout midfielder at Birdville High in North Richland Hills.

White’s old teammates gathered for an informal game at the school Tuesday night, said White’s best friend, Isaac Villalobos.

“I think Thomas would have liked that,” Villalobos said.

In high school, Villalobos said, he spent almost as much time at White’s house as his own.

They nearly decided to go to the same college, too, but White decided Southwestern was right for him.

“I don’t know how to describe him other than being my brother,” Villalobos said. “He knew how to make you feel like you were wanted, like you were important to him.”

White and friends were in an area of the Barton Creek Greenbelt known for hiking, swimming and rough terrain, an Austin police spokesman confirmed.

“The entire men’s soccer program at Southwestern is saddened to learn the news of Thomas’ sudden passing,” Pirates head coach Don Gregory said in a statement on Southwestern’s website. “He will be remembered for his free spirit and large sense of adventure. The Southwestern community extends their thoughts and respects to his family.”

White, who played two seasons on the Southwestern men’s soccer team, was named to the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference Academic Honor Roll and won the Southwestern Director of Athletics Academic Excellence Award last fall, the statement says.

At Birdville, he played three years on the Hawks’ varsity soccer team, said his former coach, Roger Garcia.

“He could play every position on the field,” Garcia said, but mostly White played midfielder. He started at the position his junior year, when Birdville made its longest playoff run in school history.

Funeral arrangements are pending, WFAA reported.