Transformation through tragedy: David Bascome on finding hope and purpose in soccer—and at Anderson University
In soccer, getting a red card isn’t a good thing. It’s associated with a foul or misconduct. When a player gets one, it’s game over.
When life hands us red cards, David Bascome contends that the game is not over. It’s not about what happens to us—it’s about how we respond. That’s the theme of his new book, Red Card: The Life Book of David Bascome. Co-written by Tommy Harrell, a friend and former roommate at Anderson University, the book recounts Bascome's life experiences and the lessons he learned along the way.
The most important? Pushing through adversity and seeking success. Tragically–and celebratory–Bascome is intimately familiar with both.
Already a seasoned soccer star when he first donned a black and gold Trojan uniform, Bascome arrived at Anderson University in the late 1980s. He was a highly touted recruit, having played on the national youth team in his native Bermuda. After leaving AU, he played professional soccer for franchises that included the Harrisburg Heat, Denver Thunder and Baltimore Blast. Bascome moved into coaching in 2006 as an assistant for the Blast before becoming the team’s head coach in 2020. He’s also a brand ambassador for shoe manufacturer New Balance.
A strong advocate and mentor for young people, Bascome extends his leadership principles beyond the field to The Bascome Futbol Leadership Academy. The academy, offered across the nation and in Bermuda, seeks to create a relevant, coherent and engaging environment for young players, their parents and coaches.
By all appearances, Bermuda is a paradise. For Bascome, it was a torment.
His was a difficult childhood. First, there was the challenge of being an orphan. Much worse was the sexual abuse he suffered at the hands of a soccer coach. During those dark days, Bascome feared for his safety, but he also feared that he would have soccer taken away from him if he exposed his abuser. Known internationally as either football or futbol, soccer is vitally important to the culture in Bermuda. Not being able to play would mean losing a part of himself. But Bascome overcame; he endured the pain of the past and found success despite tragedy.
Coming to Anderson
A recruiting call in the late 1980s from Tom McCormick, then the head men’s soccer coach at Anderson, represented an opportunity for Bascome to break free and seek a new life.
Boarding a Delta flight to Atlanta, then a Greyhound bus to Anderson, started a significant journey for Bascome.
“When I arrived, I left behind a lost young man. I left behind a whole slew of destruction and broken pavement in the road. Anderson saved my life,” Bascome said. “I was put in a situation to be so empowered and so strong and it started the journey, to start pushing back on these walls. The abuse that I went through, if I didn’t have this escape, this exodus, this movement to Anderson, there’s no telling where my life would’ve been. I came up through an orphanage. I was lost and it provided some stability. The education was very hard, but I was OK with that.”
Bascome looks back on his years at Anderson as life-transforming. He admits to being shy at first. On the soccer field, Bascome was in his zone, playing the game he loved. But things were different elsewhere on campus; initially, he struggled with adjusting to a new culture.
That’s where Tommy Harrell came in. The two formed a strong, lasting friendship that endures today. “We just connected. We’ve been brothers since that time,” Bascome said.
“When soccer was over in November, that was a time when my service to David, to be a loyal, good friend to him, was pretty much to get him accustomed to the idea that now it’s crunch time, that school and spirituality actually matter,” Harrell said.
After graduating from Anderson, Harrell moved to New York City and became a published author, actor, model and songwriter. Most recently he’s been involved in education and runs the South Jersey Educational Think Tank.
The Red Card Project
Harrell felt Bascome had a compelling story with broad appeal, full of inspiring lessons in personal empowerment. Together they wrote Red Card: The Life Book of David Bascome, and produced an autobiographical docuseries to accompany the book. Anderson University is featured prominently in both because it represented such a turning point in his life.
Bascome envisions his biography as not only his life story, but also as a toolkit for personal development. Filmmaker Gil Rios was intrigued by Bascome’s story and jumped at the chance to film the project. An award- winning filmmaker, director and video editor, Rios prides himself in selectively choosing creative partnerships where he is able to bring to life stories and experiences through his video making. Bascome and Harrell partnered with Rios after viewing the work Rios completed for the Stockton University Scientific Debates for Harrell’s South Jersey Educational Think Tank and his work serving as a guest teaching artist at Lincoln Center.
The docuseries includes footage from Baltimore, Bermuda and New York. Anderson University is a featured location in Chapter 3-Exodus.