Mon, Jun 21 2010 03:39 PM Posted By: John Philip Wyllie
A few years back Brian Lewis had the kind of senior year that most athletes only dream about. His 2006 Otay Ranch football team shared the Mesa League championship with Eastlake and Chula Vista. His strong leg and accuracy on the gridiron won him Kicker of the Year honors. The following winter, his Mustangs soccer team went on a magical run that took them all the way to a CIF banner - the first in the school's history.
After graduating from Otay Ranch in June 2007, Lewis didn't know whether to pursue football or soccer. He ended up pursuing both. He kicked briefly for the Grossmont College football team, then changed direction and headed to Austria where he played soccer for a couple months. Now he is back home playing soccer with the recently reincarnated San Diego Flash.
If the name sounds familiar, it should. The Flash competed from 1998 until 2001 as part of the A-League and produced among other things a pair of Major League Soccer stars in Jimmy Conrad and Joe Cannon. The Flash played its inaugural season at Southwestern College.
"When I returned from Austria I learned that they were starting up a new professional soccer team right here in San Diego, so I tried out and made the team and here I am," Lewis said prior to Tuesday's practice.
Unlike the multi-millionaires competing this summer in the FIFA World Cup, the players on the Flash need to find other ways to support themselves. So by day, Lewis works for his father's landscaping business, but once the evening rolls around, he puts down his rake and steps into his boots and heads out to the Balboa Stadium pitch.
"This is not about the money," he said. "I am playing just for the love of the sport."
So far, Lewis has been used effectively off the bench in the central midfield. He said he has been enjoying the experience.
"Things have been going real well," he said. "There is a good chemistry here. Not knowing a lot of these players going into it, I am making a lot of new friends."
Currently, the team is without a league. This season the Flash is playing a series of benefit exhibitions with the hope of joining a league next year. CEO Clenton Alexander came up with the idea of using the games to raise money and awareness for organ donation. Alexander spent eight years on kidney dialysis before receiving a donor kidney. It has completely transformed his life. He decided to use his soccer team to give something back. Building on Alexander's original idea the Flash have partnered with Make a Wish, Donate for Life, The Cardiovascular Disease Foundation, The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, The National Kidney Foundation, The National Multiple Sclerosis Society and, on Saturday, June 19, Kick for Hope which aids African children's charities.
Lewis is pleased to see his efforts on the field benefiting these various causes. He is hoping that the team will benefit and develop as well.
"Hopefully by next year we will have a regular league season," he said. "The ultimate goal in a couple years is to become part of MLS."
Saturday's match starts at 4 p.m. for the undefeated Flash. Tickets are $5. For more information, visit the Web site at www.sandiegoflashsoccer.com.
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