None of this begins where you think it does, of course. After all, you look at Jamar Beasley – north of 30 now, and a father, and a man who knows his sunset is coming – and what do you see?
What inaugural moment springs to mind?
Thaaats right: South Side High School, 1998, friends and family and teachers and media crammed into a small windowless room. And Jamar Beasley making history with the stroke of a pen.
That day, he became the first high school player ever to sign a Major League Soccer contract. His younger brother, DaMarcus, sat next to him. No one knew it then, but even greater things – three World Cups playing for the U.S., for starters – awaited him.
Heres the thing, though: Nothing began that day. It only continued.
It was only the sort of perpetuation that keeps any sport breathing anywhere, and so it is for soccer in Fort Wayne. The Beasleys would go on to make the city synonymous with the game, but it was a handful of former Fort Wayne Flames/Kick players, Bobby Poursanidis and Alan Bodenstein and Bronn Pfeiffer and others, who first influenced the Beasleys years before. They and a lot of others took the pair by the hand, and off they went to fame and fortune.
And now here they come back, the two of them, taking the next generation by the hand.
The Beasley National Soccer School offers camps now in three states, from Fort Wayne and Kokomo in Indiana to Holland in Michigan to Sidney and Wapakoneta in Ohio. Jamar, who plays now for the Wichita Wings of the Major Indoor Soccer League, is the schools director. DaMarcus, sweating out training at the moment for Puebla FC in Acapulco, Mexico, shows up when he can.
And why do they do this?
Its something thats been our dream, my brother and I, Jamar says. Bobby started with us in the early 90s, and we came on with him and he watched us grow and helped us grow and we became professional soccer players, and now were getting into the camp business hes been involved in for many years.
And every day were learning.
Learning, and passing on. Thats how it works, you see?
I know my playing career is winding down, says Jamar, whos scored 41 goals the last two seasons with the Missouri Comets and Wichita in the MISL. Yeah, its hard. I have a family now. My son is 1 1/2 years old now. I just kind of see things in a different light right now at the age of 32.
Now its all about getting into coaching (The next step for me is to get a B license, and that enables me to coach college or any situation that comes about, Jamar says), and running the Beasley camps, three of which will land in the Beasleys hometown this summer. The first runs this week at Plex North/Hefner Fields; the second is July 9-13, also at Plex North/Hefner Fields; and the third will be July 30-Aug. 3 at Plex South.
I love working with kids, Jamar says. Its something that Im giving back – helping a kid dribble the ball and move off the ball to score goals and just helping them.
If theres anything I can mentor them with, not just as a coach, but just being a guy they can come to, Ill do it. Because Ive been through a lot and I can share what Ive been through with them.