Jack stays grounded on path to stardom

There's no real set pattern toward becoming a pro or a star in a sport. Some try special coaches, recruiting specialists and sports psychologists.

The McBeans went with faith, Christian values and a love for the game of soccer when raising their rising star, Jack. He's now 16 and on the path toward stardom.

It all happened so quickly, yet Scotty and Lisa found a way to make it methodical, and still there's a measured pace going as Jack continues to elevate his game.

In January, Jack signed with the Los Angeles Galaxy. He's trained with the big names, David Beckham and Landon Donovan, yet he's found a way to stay level-headed, grounded. That could be seen Saturday when he was back at Mariners Christian School, where he attended. This time he was teaching and showing kids with rough backgrounds how to have fun with the game.

Jack was a featured guest during a soccer clinic for about 65 children from KidWorks, the Santa Ana-based program for kids from at-risk neighborhoods.

Jack battled through a bad case of allergies throughout the day, but he still wanted to be there.

There were times he looked like a typical teenager and other times he looked like a pro adult. As he was driving away in his car, he stopped to sign soccer balls and t-shirts for some happy kids.

The scene must seem surreal for those who have seen Jack grow up. He appears all grown up, but he's still a teen, or "a normal kid," as his mother, Lisa, says. He still needs to pay attention to his parents. He also must manage his time and what he posts on Facebook.

The past five months might seem like a whirlwind for Jack, but he doesn't see it that way, even though he's trained with the Galaxy and helped the U.S. men's under-17 national team to the U17 CONCACAF title.

"It started off as pretty unreal," Jack said of the past five months. "As it went on, it's been hard but it's been really fun. I just try to work hard and I try to bring something new every time I go on the field."

The expectations appear high for Jack because of all the success he's garnered in such a short time. But Jack also doesn't see it that way. He says he doesn't feel any pressure.

"They're taking it slow with me on the Galaxy," Jack said. "I want to put pressure on myself."

Jack apparently performs well under pressure. He doesn't remember when he first started playing soccer. His name appeared in stories in the Daily Pilot 10 years ago, and even more in 2004 when Jack played in the Daily Pilot Cup for Mariners Christian School.

Rea Elementary is known for winning championships in the huge youth soccer tournament. But Jack led a Mariners Christian squad that halted Rea's reign in 2006.

As a freshman at Corona del Mar High, Jack was a big part of helping the Sea Kings reach unprecedented heights, as they won their first CIF section title and CIF regional championship.

This week, he's in Florida, training with the national team. The team leaves for Mexico on Friday to get some training in for this summer's U17 World Cup.

What Jack said about wanting to bring something new to the field every time holds true. He made the most of his opportunity in a reserve game for the Galaxy against the UCLA men's soccer team on April 3.

"When I got in I broke loose and I scored one," Jack said. "It was cool."

Lisa contends that Jack is not fanatical about soccer, but acknowledges there's a love for the game. That love was built between father and son. That has also worked in the development of Jack McBean.

"He's been through all of it with me," Jack said of his father, Scotty. "He brought me up in the game. I always used to watch games with him, Premier League, World Cup. I think his love of the game really helped me find an interest in it."

Soccer never seemed pushed on Jack, yet it appears he was made to play soccer. He continues to prove that.

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