Blast's 'unbelievable speaker' reaches out

Hope 4 Life gives assistant coach Bascome a voice for engaging at-risk youths

  • David Bascome is the assistant coach for the Baltimore Blast soccer team. He runs a foundation called Hope 4 Life that tries to bring the community together to combat drugs and violence against the youth.
David Bascome is the assistant coach for the Baltimore Blast… (Lloyd Fox, Baltimore Sun )
December 18, 2010|By The Baltimore Sun

When Blast assistant coach David Bascome speaks, people tend to listen.

Bascome has dedicated much of his time to helping and mentoring at-risk youths in the Baltimore area through his Hope 4 Life motivational speaking program, which is designed to help children avoid negative influences and find ways to make a positive difference in their communities.

When he founded the program four years ago in his native Bermuda, Bascome sought to instill hope in kids who were struggling in school, being bullied or were victims of abuse. The venture is a personal mission for him to give back after so many positive influences in his life helped change the course of his future.

"He's an unbelievable speaker," Blast assistant general manager Mike Conway said. "He really knows how to draw kids in. He has these little things he does during his speeches and kids have to pay attention. If someone hasn't heard his message I think they're really missing out."

Bascome, 40, who played 17 years of professional indoor soccer and is in his third season as a Blast assistant, endured a turbulent childhood. After his parents divorced when he was still a young child, Bascome's father placed him and his three siblings into foster care so he could further his education. His father believed it was the only way he could give his family a chance to survive.

Adding to his difficult upbringing was a speech impediment that caused Bascome to become bashful and afraid to interact with others. But his nadir came in 1986 when he was arrested while enrolled in community college in South Carolina. He won't elaborate on the arrest but says it was the impetus for turning his life around.

"I was a menace. I wasn't bothered until I realized it was affecting the thing I love, and that was the game," Bascome said. "You realize everything is taken away from you when you're locked up. When I started speaking nine years ago, I had to tell young people what I'd been through because they had to trust me. It's the realness of who you are that they trust."

Bascome has long since overcome his speech impediment and, by all accounts, is now a forceful and thought-provoking speaker. He is kind-natured but intense, and his dedication to the community is unwavering. In Bermuda, he founded the Island Soccer League in 2006 and currently serves as its commissioner. He challenges the children he meets to follow their dreams, and this season Bascome has chosen four Blast players — Machel Millwood, Robbie Aristodemo, Pat Morris and Pat Healey — to represent Hope 4 Life at area schools.

But Bascome has ensured that the program is not solely focused on helping children who aspire to be professional athletes, nor is it targeted strictly to young boys. Bascome has linked Hope 4 Life with similar charity organizations, so, for example, if a child comes forward with a talent for arts and crafts, he'll be connected with an affiliated art program that can help. Bascome has also enlisted the help of the Blast cheerleaders to spark interest in the female demographic.

"It's not just the males who need help," Bascome said. "We need the female involvement. There was a young female in Bermuda who came up after a speech and started crying. She was coming from sex abuse but wouldn't tell a counselor. You never know what's going on, and through our affiliated groups we were able to help her."

The Blast has also invested resources in other area charities, including Soccer Without Borders, a program that uses the sport as a vehicle for positive change in the lives of area youths; the Conquerors League for special-needs children; and the Craig Willinger Fund, a nonprofit that aims to send children undergoing cancer treatments to live soccer matches.

"We're accessible," Healey said. "Our front office is telling us you have to get out there and go to these fundraisers to get people out there. We're just trying to do our very best."

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