Loyola graduate Brian Bement proved that determination pays off after he signed a professional soccer contract with Puerto Rico FC — a team in the North American Soccer League (NASL), the American league below Major League Soccer.
Bement started kicking a soccer ball as soon as he could walk and started playing soccer when he was 5 years old. At St. Louis University High School in St. Louis, Missouri, Bement excelled his senior year as he scored 17 goals and caught the eye of Loyola scouts.
He went on to have a stand-out four-year career with the Ramblers. The class of 2015 grad tallied 15 goals, including six game-winning goals, during his time at Loyola. Bement is known by his teammates and coaches to have a knack for scoring. They always insisted he would be the one to score the game-winning goal for his squad.
“He was someone guys wanted on their team in competitive situations in training because they knew he was going to work hard,” head coach Neil Jones said.
Two years into Bement’s career with the Ramblers, Loyola made a coaching change. In 2013, Jones took over the program and worked with Bement for the next two years. Jones said he has high praise for Bement’s persistence.
“He’s been told ‘no’ a lot,” said Jones. “It’s easy after a few tryouts, when you’ve been told ‘no,’ to give up. But that speaks to what kind of a player he is. I give him massive credit to sticking to his guns for continuing to get back up after he’s been knocked down.”
Jones went on to say that Bement’s role with the Ramblers was a mix between a clutch goal-scorer and a competitive player in training. Bement was also the butt of some jokes, but Jones said that was because he was a well-respected and easygoing person.
Before he signed with Puerto Rico FC — which NBA star Carmelo Anthony owns — Bement traveled to tryouts in Oklahoma, Texas, Florida and Ohio. But Bement refused to quit, and he paid for his own trip to Puerto Rico for the tryout which ultimately landed him on the team.
“Hard work goes a long way,” said Bement. “If you are resilient then good things can happen. I was told ‘no’ countless times, both going into college and getting into the next level. Going from tryout to tryout, you can’t let it get you down to achieve your goal.”
Former Rambler Ryan Howe said he fed off Bement’s confidence during games when the two were teammates at Loyola.
“His overall theme was, if someone told him he couldn’t do it, he was going to prove them wrong,” said Howe. “And he did that by going pro.”
Bement is getting ready for his new team’s preseason in Puerto Rico. He said although the training involves long days, the weather and beach have gotten him through it.