"Now, I'm the conductor."

by Lindsay Mogle

David Bascome is a survivor.

While growing up in Bermuda, the Baltimore Blast head coach endured one of the ghastliest crimes anyone can inflict upon a youngster.

He was the victim of sexual abuse for several years.

Bascome overcame that by going to his safe place - soccer.

The indoor version of the beautiful game allowed the one-time Bermudan international to not only survive but thrive.

He wants to share that tale so victims of any type of abuse, sexual or otherwise, realize they are not alone.

As it turned out, Bascome was not alone when he was molested. Years prior, his older brother, Andrew, also was a victim. 

The Bascomes did not have an easy early life as David and his siblings lived in an orphanage for a time, while their father searched for work.

Football, as Bermuda and the rest of the world call the sport, was the brothers’ outlet.

"Football became something I really loved," David Bascome said. "There was a young man. He was older than us, a very good football player in Bermuda. He was our coach. He was my brother's coach first. Because we loved this game so much, everything was about this game. The game was our greatest safe place." 

Bascome admitted he didn't notice the abuse when Andrew was trained by the coach.

"This young man was probably the best football defender in Bermuda," he said. "I didn't know anything was going on. When he asked to coach me, when I was 11, 12, I had no understanding of anything else but to play football. He trained me and this is where the abuse started. It got to the point where you have these fears."

Fear as in sharing this information with anyone. Something as horrific as sexual abuse isn't easy to talk about, especially when you are a young victim.

 "I never had the tools at that time to really overcome situations like this," Bascome said. "The fear of telling somebody, that fear of talking about a great player in Bermuda."

Bascome did not go into explicit detail on what transpired, but it left a psychological scar. He also did not mention the name of his abuser.

"I had to deal with some obstacles," he said. "I had to deal with a speech impediment to get myself on the other side of having that good headspace."

That headspace, that safe space, was soccer.

 "Every time I came back to the game of football," he said. "It saved me."

As a teenager, Bascome decided his life’s path - to become a professional player.

Bascome has chronicled his life and detailed his abuse in a book, RED CARD: The life Book of David Bascome, which he co-authored with Tommy Harrell. It is scheduled to be released in March. His representatives are negotiating with streaming services about a docuseries.

He hoped that his story will help other victims.

For more information on the book and the documentary trailers, visit: https://bascomeenterprises.com/redcard/

Bascome’s safe place spawned a stellar playing and coaching career that has included eight indoor championships - four as a player and four as an assistant coach with the Blast in the Major Arena Soccer League and Major Indoor Soccer League.

Fueled by his experience, Bascome developed a passion for life and soccer. You can’t but help to hear it when he speaks.

"You never know when the next turn is going to come," he said. "I understood it at the age of four. My mindset was always I had to create. If I have a blank canvas of my life, I had to be able fill that canvas up with tools to be successful. I have to be able to share the tools with others so they can continue to be empowered. That's how I function."

He learned to balance that passion with everyday life.

"I love what I do, and it comes at a price sometimes because sometimes you can forget about yourself when you're trying to empower everybody else," he said. "That's what I'm learning is making sure that my family is always a part of me growing so I have to get one if somebody tools that I have to learn myself is that I must stay grounded with my family.”

Early in his career, Bascome wanted to play the game. It didn't matter where.

"It had nothing to do with what league or team," he said. "My biggest goal was to be an entertainer, being able to entertain people with my craft. It could have been beach football, as we call it in Bermuda. It wasn't like I wanted to play for ManU. I wanted to play. It was a way out for me. Football, soccer was my safe place. I wanted to play in front of people."

Bascome was influenced, watching English Premier League sides Liverpool and Tottenham play friendly matches in Bermuda.

"It was wow! I get to watch professionals play!" he said. "I wanted to be an entertainer. That's how I appreciated this game. It was a ball that rolled. It took me out of a lot of misery that I was going through. When I got the ball and scored, and I'm like wow! I wanted to make sure they [fans] don't come to a bad movie."

That joy and philosophy has been infused into Bascome.

His introduction to the indoor game was unique, given that outdoor soccer dominates the Bermuda scene. In the early 1990's, Bascome tried to join an English team.

"I realized that I was only 126 lbs., England was not going to work," the 5-11 Bascome said. "I was over at Cambridge. My national team coach {Gary Darrell] was on our journey to try to qualify for the World Cup. I realized that I had to change course." 

He had a tryout with the Baltimore Bays (American Professional Soccer League), but the team reached its visa limit. Bascome was invited to the Harrisburg Heat training camp, meeting fellow rookies Danny Kelly and Mark Pulisic.

"I had no idea what to expect," he said. "I remember getting picked up from the airport, going to the first training session. It didn't make sense. We can't be training in here. I see this carpet. It was really uncomfortable as somebody who played on a grassy field. I had to adjust. I had to change my mindset. I had to get used to wearing AstroTurf or indoor shoes, which was another light transition."

It took Bascome from 1 1/2 to two seasons to get comfortable indoors.

"The mental transition was crazy on how fast the ball just continues to return back to you," he said. "If you make a mistake, that was in whole transition outdoors where the ball doesn't come back to you quickly. Indoors, you don't have time to work with your mistakes. It was a physical, mental, climate and culture transition."

Once he got going, he couldn't stop, Bascome scored a Heat-record 376 goals (and 168 assists) over 10 seasons. He topped 40 goals six times with a personal-best 53 goals, plus 25 assists in 2000-01.

Bascome joined the Blast for the 2003-04 season as Baltimore captured the league crown. It was the Bermudan's first indoor title and most memorable soccer moment. He has lived several personal highs, having his Heat jersey retired (2012) and being inducted into the Blast Hall of Fame (2020). Bascome also played for his country's national team and was named a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2003 for services to sport and young people in Bermuda.

"This moment was so heavy because the [final minute] was the longest minute of our lives," he said. "My whole life was passing before me; everything that I went through in this game and the abuse, everything that I had to endure when I was young, the sacrifices for a young male with a basic high school education flashed in front of me."

When the final buzzer sounded, confetti fell from the rafters in celebration.

"I find myself in the middle of the field," Bascome said. "I dropped to my knees and just shed tears."

Bascome wore the Bermudan colors 12 times, scoring twice. Let's face, it. There is nothing like representing your country.

"To get that call, it's the greatest feeling in the world, to step on the field wearing the crest and defending the integrity and what it stood for the country with football," he said. "Being a part of that, playing against different countries, it's amazing. It's a feeling beyond. Bermuda.  I love my country. … When you leave that airport, and you look behind you and you see this small island that you are now entertaining to the world for your country. Huge.”

After retiring in 2008, Bascome joined the Blast as an assistant coach under his long-time friend Kelly.

In May 2020, Bascome was named Blast head coach, succeeding Kelly.

"I knew that my plan was not to be a head coach," he said. "I wasn't looking to be a head coach. I was busy and trying to follow the world. traveling, going on missions building my own business. ... Working with Danny was great, because we respected each other. He had an idea we shared."

Bascome took over during the COVID-19 pandemic. The entire Eastern Division could not participate in the 2021 season due to the unavailability of the teams' venue or local Coronavirus protocols.

"It was like you're young and your parents tell you [you're going to] the amusement park, and it rains," he said. "I was pumped up for the date. I am such planner, structuring, forecasting. I was preparing for it just in case."

In other words, Bascome had a Plan B.

 "I was more concerned about the players," he said. "They're going to be off for another year, 18 months before another game. Mentally, what is that going to do for us? How can you tell them that there is no season? That was the toughest one as a new coach. It's trusting you. ... They still accepted the transition."

Some Baltimore players performed on loan for a few of the seven clubs that competed last year.

Returning to competition this season, the Blast (8-5,25 points) is in second place in the Eastern Division, entering this weekend’s action (home games against the Florida Tropics on Saturday, Utica City FC on Sunday).

"This is where the team is supposed to be, where we are right now," Bascome said. "This means that it's on the path that I was looking for. I'm happy, but I'm not happy that we lost games. 

"I do understand everything comes in time. I'm seeing growth of my players. I'm seeing growth for players who have only played in their first season. … The execution is the key. I'm comfortable with what we've executed. My goal is to continue to do well and shoot for the playoffs because that's a new season."

Bascome said realized he has a new role because he was “a player, an entertainer. Now, I'm the conductor. I have to be able to put on a good performance and get results." 

If the Blast continues on its pace, it will reach the playoffs. 

If Baltimore wins the MASL title, it will be championship No. 9 for Bascome.

When Bascome started his journey after enduring sexual abuse decades ago, he won a personal championship by surviving and then thriving. Now, it's time to share his story with others and help lift them up.

"I don't want people to feel sorry for me," he said. "I want them to use this as a tool. I've been blessed.

"My greatest value of my life is my legacy. [It] comes down to acknowledging how people may have felt of me and the things I've done. I don't ask for much, but the acknowledgments of the work that's been put in to help others and to give them hope."


Michael Lewis, the editor of FrontRowSoccer.com, can be followed on Twitter at @SoccerWriter. He can be reached via email at Michael@FrontRowSoccer.com. His book Alive and Kicking: The incredible, but true story of the Rochester Lancers, was published this week. It can be purchased at https://tinyurl.com/2p8rzhpy.