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John Lentz loved to play soccer at Todd Beamer High School
By Adam Kulaas
Head soccer coach at Todd Beamer High School
High school athletics are so important in the development of relationships that certainly last longer than a high school career. With Beamer's first four-year graduating class, I spent the initial part of the summer looking at the past and then began to move my thoughts to the incoming class of freshmen that would replace the alumni.
As a coach, I grew as much as my players and now fully recognize the significance of four full years with six players. When they were turning in their gear this last spring, I had each senior sign their jersey as a symbol of the memories that they had created and looked forward to introducing the history of each number to the freshman class for the 2007-08 season. The battles won and lost and most of all the character that comes with each jersey.
To take on #6 (Brennen Hall), a player had better be prepared to act as a field general and lead through example more than words. To slip on #9 (Sean Davis), a player had better be prepared to finish a shot and look to amaze the crowd with free kicks. I could go on to show that #2 (Cory Hoffman) would represent determination, #10 (Ricco Sanchez) would represent passion and heart, and to wear the #1 (TJ Young) would mean that inspiration would be expected.
This leaves me with #16...and with that I mean John's jersey (ultimately accepted by default name out of a hat, got first choice of number) and I would say that the expectation or association would be summarized as doing what is best for the team.
John Lentz loved Todd Beamer soccer. He loved the relationships that it brought and just had a passion for the team and a desire to play the game. The best John Lentz quote that I can remember came late last spring as we were preparing for a playoff run. He looked to me and said, "I am going to get you that ring".
He didn't say that he was going to get himself a ring, but that he would be playing for his team and his coach. That is how I will forever remember John Lentz. He was a Titan and as a Titan, he was going to do everything in his power to represent his school, team and family. He was not interested in individual fame or recognition, he wanted the best for others around him.
Now as a coach who has a passion for his players and is blessed with the opportunity to guide and mentor young adults on the field and in life, I can't help but recognize that tragedies like this truly allow you to celebrate an opportunity to know such an amazing individual.
To have had the opportunity to laugh, smile and even cry with a kid who became a man is an opportunity that cannot be taken for granted. Many athletes go through their high school careers and leave their legacies for the future classes. They raise the bar and genuinely hope that it is met or raised and look forward to coming home for rivalry games, homecoming and the coveted playoffs.
They follow their squads in the news and on the Internet and take pride in bragging rights long after they are done. John's passing will stand as a reminder of how much high school athletics bring to each player's life. It allows them to dream and extend their minds in the classroom, which ultimately carries to life.
John Lentz loved high school soccer, he loved having his parents at games and would view pictures that his dad would take during each match. He was proud of the slide show that they created...and even more eager to smile at the fact that he got his dad to put on his song choice of "It's Going Down."
He loved being part of the team and while he was at Beamer, it was a year-long committment. A quarter of the year would be dedicated to the season and the reaminder of the time would be spent talking about when it would finally start again.
John loved eating pizza with the team and our annual FIFA soccer tournament on XBox (We would usually do it once a season).