NPSL Alum’s Inspirational Journey Brings Him Back to the Pro Ranks

By Ben Ferree/

As sports continue to stagger back to activity across the country, some leagues and players are
still grappling with the unknowns of COVID-19 and how it affects athletes. The Big 10 and
PAC 12 conferences postponed all fall sports in part due to concerns about myocarditis, a rare
side effect of various diseases including COVID-19. For Drew Beckie, contracting myocarditis
isn’t a concern – he already has it, and he’s still playing.

Now playing with El Paso Locomotive FC in the USL, Beckie’s career almost came to a halt in
2017. After spending time in MLS and the NASL, Beckie was making the move to Europe,
training with KuPS FC, a Finnish First Division club. While there, he suffered cardiac arrest
and it was determined he had contracted myocarditis. Though his health returned, many clubs
were concerned about signing a player with such a serious health condition. NPSL side
Jacksonville Armada gave Beckie a chance, keeping his career going. Now, Beckie and all his
teammates face another health crisis.

“I’ve talked to my doctors, and for me, I don’t have to do any ongoing testing [for myocarditis],
but there are some underlying things that COVID presents if I do catch it that I have to be careful
about,” Beckie said. “But to be honest I never thought about opting out…I love the game too
much to put it on hold. I went all in, and the league and my team have done a really good job of
keeping to the protocols. I feel safe.”

According to the Myocarditis Foundation, “After treatment, many patients live long, full lives
free from the effects of myocarditis. For others, however, ongoing cardiovascular medication or
even a heart transplant may be needed.” 45% of all heart transplants performed are done because
of myocarditis.

The key for Beckie, and his teammates, is living a lifestyle that will help keep his risks down.

“I stay at home a lot,” Beckie said. “I’m doing a lot of reading. I started recently playing
warzone with my teammates, but I’m not very good at video games, so I have a lot of books I’m
trying to get through. I’m getting my license in financial advising at the moment so that I have
that when I’m done playing. I’m trying to keep my mind busy because it is kind of easy to do
nothing during the day.”

Beckie has appeared in four games for the Locomotive returned to USL play, logging 257
minutes of work. His past experience dealing with health issues is helping him this time around.

“The old adage of ‘this too shall pass,’ there will be a time we get back to normality,” Beckie
said. “It taught me a lot of patience, one day at a time. I took the game for granted a little bit,
and then, in that moment, it wasn’t up to me. It was out of my control. So I had to kind of let it
go, exactly like this pandemic, it’s not in our control. Listen to the health professionals, do what
they say, as I did when I was sick, and it will come to a good outcome.”

Beckie’s drive to compete and overcome his health obstacles have inspired those around him.

Jacksonville Armada President and General Manager Nathan Walter said, “Drew Beckie was a
key performer during his time with Jacksonville Armada FC, both on the field and off the field.
He represented our badge proudly and had stellar leadership that brought the team together
during a year of both league and ownership transitions—even during his own challenges. I am
honored to have worked with Drew and support his journey.”

For his part, Beckie is thankful Jackonsville gave him a shot.

“I give a lot of credit to them for having faith in me. If say Jacksonville had been an MLS team,
or a USL Championship team, I’m not sure they would’ve taken that risk. I’m thankful [the
NPSL] was in place and is still in place today. It was the perfect way to get back into the game,
to get fit, and to get back playing,” Beckie said.

Photo Credit: Jacksonville Armada FC, Rebecca Reza, and El Paso Locomotive

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