Trying past helps Bascome go forward

Once a child with no home, Blast star has persevered


November 28, 2003|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,SUN STAFF

When Blast forward David Bascome was little more than a toddler, his father took him and his three siblings to a group home and left them there. Herbie Bascome's wife had left him and, as his son David would find out years later, the father could think of nothing else to do.

"It was a different time," the Blast's Bascome said in his lilting Bermuda accent. "Today, when you hear kids are put in homes it is because their parents are bad or because the kids are bad or unwanted. But back then, it happened because some parents had no choice."

Over the past 10 years, Bascome, 33, has taken the time to learn about his father and the circumstances that would force a man to give up his children.

"He really had no choice, and for him, it was a sacrifice to leave us there," Bascome said. "He took us there so he could go back to school and learn a profession and eventually do well for his family.

"I have no trouble talking about it because in the end, you simply have to live with it. The only thing I regret is that growing up I never had a family structure. I never had a dinner with less than 30 other people."

This week, Bascome's coach, Tim Wittman, watched his forward practice. He has heard how Bascome grew up in a group home, overcame a speech problem and turned himself into a public speaker who encourages kids to pursue their dreams.

"I love stories like that," Wittman said. "And I love his work ethic. That guy never feels like he has done enough. He's a proven all-star in this league and with his attitude it only makes him better."

Bascome was Baltimore's top pick in last summer's dispersal draft of Harrisburg Heat players.

A 12-year indoor soccer veteran, Bascome was Harrisburg's all-time leading scorer. What he offered Baltimore was not only scoring prowess, but also speed and solid defense.

If Harrisburg comes back into the MISL next season, Bascome is supposed to be returned. But Wittman said, "I want to do all I can to keep him here."

In eight games this season, Bascome has recorded six goals and four assists.

But, as Wittman said, it's not good enough for Bascome. He runs five miles on his days off, and he keeps a book he calls "My Little Soccer Bible."

"Everything I've learned is in that book," he said. "What the coach has been telling me, what I've learned from others. I don't want to forget any of it. At the start of every year I write every player's name from my team in the book, and beside their names I write everything that is good about them. And then I use things from each player, put it in my game, to make myself better. ... That way every year is a challenge. Every year I learn something new. And I hope, one day, all those things will come together and I will help my team win a championship."

The closest he has come was 1994-95 when Harrisburg was swept in the best-of-seven championship series.

"I watched all my teammates getting their championship rings here two weeks ago," he said. "I hope what I am bringing to my team is the energy to keep the guys digging -- I really want a championship."

But he wants more than that. He isn't here just for the goals, the rings and the trophies.

"You have to get more out of playing soccer than just the game," he said. "Otherwise, at the end, you fall short. I don't want simply to be a player who is getting old. I want to be one who stands for something, who has given something back."

And so he battled against a childhood stutter to become a forceful public speaker. He found if he spoke louder, he could hear himself. The sound of his words gave him confidence, and instead of racing ahead, stuttering and stammering out words, he began to slow down. And as he spoke slower, the problem began to disappear.

Now, he continually returns to Bermuda to work with young people. In Baltimore, he has asked to be among the Blast's players who make community appearances.

"In all my talks, I talk about life," he said. "I settle in. If you're in the audience, you know about me. You know this guy had a speech problem, that he was brought up in a home and made the best use of the life he was given. I want them to know that no matter what their circumstance they can overcome and be whatever they want to be.

"I teach all of them that they may fall down, but the most important thing is to find out why and keep going."

In Bermuda, Bascome is a role model. He writes a weekly column for the local newspaper, and the local TV station now carries Blast games on a delayed basis.

Bascome recently learned he has been awarded the distinguished Member of the British Empire award for his community service.

The award, to be presented next summer, is usually given to politicians. But the Bascome name has become a familiar one on the honors list. His father, Herbie, who is now the head chef at Bermuda's South Hampton Princess Hotel, and who also does work for Bermuda tourism and gives inspirational lectures, has received one, too.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.