Indoor soccer players are known to be accessible and generous with their time, and one man has been assembling some of the MASL’s biggest stars for a good cause.
Meet Brian Judy, building products salesman by day and St. Louis Ambush fan who sits on the Board of Directors of 501(c)(3) charity All American Athlete by night.
Last year, while working with another 501(c)(3), Judy hosted what they touted as the first professional futsal game in St. Louis.
On August 5 All American Athlete and Judy will host an all-star caliber group of players that includes Gordy Gurson, Ian Bennett, Max Ferdinand, Taylor Bond, Hewerton Moreira, Joey Tavernese and more.
This year’s honorary team captains are Luke, who is 15 and battling an inoperable brain tumor, and Joe, who has Down syndrome and needs a heart transplant. “Joe calls everyone ‘buddy’ so the teams are Joe’s Buddies and Luke’s Lads,” said Judy.
“The players are all psyched. I will have 20 kids or so there also who are battling cancer.”
Judy has also made one-on-one introductions, pairing kids with players. Gurson became a friend and advocate of 10-year old Tristan, who died in February.
Last year’s honorary captains were Keira, who has since passed away, and Trevor, who is battling grade 4 medulloblastoma (PNET).
The players take this type of community engagement seriously and often develop emotional attachments. “Honestly when some of these kids die it’s pretty hard on myself just because I try to get close with them and build a relationship with them and seeing some of them die at an early age is very heartbreaking,” said Gurson. “I had a good relationship with Keira, not as strong as Corey Adamson’s, but we still had a great relationship. Trevor was my captain from last year’s futsal game, and I also have a relationship with Luke who is the captain of the other team this year. I’m really excited to meet Joe at the futsal game this year who is my captain.”
“It takes special people,” said Judy.
“I met Brian last year at the futsal charity event game,” said Tavernese. “I also played in 3v3 charity event in St. Louis. He is an amazingly caring person. How he treats the kids, what he does with them, and for them, is truly something special. The kids I met through him truly changed my outlook on life, especially the late Keira, who touched my heart. He opens your eyes to more important things to life with what he is involved in, rather than the every day complaints we aren’t happy with.”
Gurson met Brian when he was traded to the Ambush in 2015. “He messaged me with a warm welcome to the club,” said Gurson, “and then I got together with him and his family and he told me about the charity he was involved with. That’s when we became close. The kids I’ve met through Brian have all become close to me. They are all very special. I’m always looking forward to playing in St. Louis so the kids can come and watch me play. That’s when Brian and I came up with doing an annual futsal game and getting the kids involved in being our captains and even Kiera last year had the opportunity to score a goal in the futsal game.”
The players donate their time and travel at their own expense. “We try to host clinics while we are out there to give the players something for coming out there,” said Gurson, who now plays for the Cedar Rapids Rampage. “It helps us out and is good for the area kids to get some coaching from us.”
Gurson will be joined at this year’s game by his Cedar Rapids teammates Bobby Hurwitz, Joshio Sandoval, Mario Alvarez, Hewerton, and Bond.
“Our players understand that they have a role not only on the field but also off the field, said Rampage General Manager Chris Kokalis. “That’s what being a professional soccer player is about: giving back as often as you can, and our guys are doing that, not just in the Cedar Rapids community but partnering with people like Brian Judy to do so in other MASL communities as well. I know that Gordy worked closely with Brian to spearhead getting this great event off the ground, so I know he has a vested interest in making sure it’s a huge success and raises a ton of money for the cause”.
According to their literature, “The All American Athlete community is a nurturing community for today’s children, where they find companionship, friendship, safety, and security in an environment where they are pushed to find their true strengths and work to develop their physical, mental, and emotional skills to an exceptional level.”
Judy has used soccer as a vehicle to deliver those principles. The Ambush and individual players have donated tickets so Judy can host kids’ families at games.
“The players for the Ambush and other MASL teams have been so generous with their time. With the kids that we work with, the players become just as attached to the kids as the kids do to the players.
“Gurson, Tavernese, (Peter) Sliwa, (Lucas) Almeida, (Ross) MacGregor, and Adamson have been very close to all that I do.”
All American Athlete has plans to build a three-gym facility, where they can hold charity soccer, basketball, and volleyball tournaments. “We will use the gyms for these cancer kids to come out and just be kids,” said Judy.
Quality of life is an essential part of the players’ relationships with the terminally ill kids.
“We have some kids who have ‘beaten it’,” said Judy. “And it is our goal just to make whatever time we have the best we can.”