Jimmy Banks, a former USMNT defender who played at the World Cup in 1990, passed away in 2019, but his legacy lives on. A native of Milwaukee, WI, Banks spent most of his life in the Midwest. His playing days stuck around indoor soccer with the Milwaukee Wave. The Wave is still in action today, and it is the oldest continually operational soccer team in the United States. Banks played for the Wave while he made a total of 36 appearances with the United States.

The indoor soccer star broke barriers upon his selection for the 1990 World Cup by head coach Bob Gansler. Banks, as well as teammate Desmond Armstrong, became the first two African-American players named to a World Cup squad by the United States. Granted, that was the first time the United States qualified at all since 1950. Regardless, it was a historic moment for the team, despite the United States losing each of its three games.

As stated, Banks passed away in 2019 after a battle with cancer. However, the trend of pushing the boundaries on expectations is something the Friends of Jimmy Banks is continuing to work toward. This group of community volunteers in the Milwaukee area recently renamed the stadium at Obama High School the Jimmy Banks Memorial Stadium. Yet, the work does not stop there.

Legacy of USMNT player Jimmy Banks lives on in Milwaukee

To further commemorate the life of Jimmy Banks, the group is looking to raise $40,000 to paint a mural at the stadium. The raised money will then go to scholarships for local kids. Banks was revered as a supporter of the community and someone who wanted to help out the children. For example, one of his quotes stands out.

“When I leave this world, I want to be able to say that I’ve done something for someone. I think by helping these kids, teaching them good values, not only teaching but motivating — if I can do that, I’ve done my job.”

Even though Banks is no longer around, those that he impacted are carrying on that legacy of giving back to the Milwaukee community.

Tying Banks’ roots back to Wisconsin is something he did even after his playing career ended. Banks spent 20 years as the head coach of the Milwaukee School of Engineering. In the meantime, he also served as the director of coaching for the Milwaukee Kickers. That passion to be involved with Milwaukee was clear, and it is something that his friends and family recognized.

For reference, his son, Dee Banks, said his upbringing came from a poorer area of Milwaukee. That is actually how he found out about soccer when the Salvation Army had it as one of their activities. He echoed that motion by founding a soccer club for underserved communities in the eastern Wisconsin area. That is known as the Milwaukee Simbas.

“Soccer has been so good to me, I just want to put something back into the sport as far as working with inner-city kids, disadvantaged kids and things like that,” Banks once said.