By CASEY OLSON, The Mirror
The memory of John Lentz will live on. The Todd Beamer High School boys soccer team is making sure of that.
Lentz, a 2007 graduate of Todd Beamer High School, was killed in August when the car he was driving crashed into a billboard pole in Edgewood. The 18-year-old was pronounced dead at Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center, where he was airlifted following the crash. Lentz was also an All-South Puget Sound League South Division defender for the Titan soccer team.
This year’s edition of the Beamer soccer team is honoring Lentz’s memory by wearing red jersey tops that have “Irish” printed across the shoulders and a large number 16 on the back. “Irish” was Lentz’s nickname and he wore the number 16 during his four years on the Beamer soccer team.
“This season will celebrate high school athletics through the memory of John and the relationships that they create,” said Beamer head coach Adam Kulaas.
The 2008 edition of the Titans sported the new red jersey tops during their first SPSL South regular-season match Tuesday against Curtis and will wear the jerseys for the remainder of the season. Curtis won the game, 2-1.
“This gesture is in memory of John, but more importantly, a symbol of why high school athletics are so important,” Kulaas said.
During his four-year soccer career at Beamer, Lentz never tallied a goal or an assist, but was named honorable mention All-SPSL as a sophomore, second-team as a junior and earned first-team, All-SPSL South Division as a senior.
Lentz started in the Titans’ defensive backfield as a freshman, when the Titans finished 8-8-1 and lost to Bellarmine Prep, the eventual state champions, in the West Central District Tournament. During his sophomore season, Beamer finished 16-0-2 and won the SPSL South Division title before being ousted again at the district tournament. Beamer qualified for their first-ever Class 4A state tournament in 2006 after an 11-5-3 season and last year, Beamer won their second SPSL South championship, before losing to Federal Way in the state tournament quarterfinals.
Lentz’ No. 16 Beamer jersey will be retired by the soccer program and hung inside the school’s gymnasium.
“Nobody will ever wear 16 again,” Kulaas said. “It will stay as a permanent thing and be hung under our two SPSL championships in a glass box.”
According to the Pierce County sheriff’s office, Lentz was speeding when he crashed his yellow Ford Mustang into a pole in the 2200 block of Merdiian Avenue East.
Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565, firstname.lastname@example.org