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“We’ve always talked soccer:” MU soccer a family affair as son plays under father’s tutelage

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- The popularity of soccer in Milwaukee has never been as high as it is now -- and that's a good thing for Marquette University Head Coach Louis Bennett Sr., who has been around Milwaukee soccer as a professional player and now a head coach.

"When we play a crosstown rivalry, it's always going to be full. The way it's supported, I really love it," Marquette Head Soccer Coach Louis Bennett Sr. said.

Despite its recent surge in popularity, Bennett Sr. is still trying to grow the sport.

"Our recruiting philosophy is, it's like throwing a pebble in a bucket. Immediately it goes into the water, that's Milwaukee. Then if we can find people there, that's good. If not, we'll go out as far as we'd like. If we can get to Mars and there were soccer players on Mars and we couldn't find them in Milwaukee, we'd go there," Bennett Sr. said.

The ripple effect has reached Europe, Africa and South America -- but it also reached Bennett Sr.'s backyard.

"When he popped out, as they say, when he was crawling, he was looking at soccer magazines. And then as soon as he could stand, he was kicking the ball," Bennett Sr. said.

19 years later, Louis Bennett II, or Louis Jr. is kicking the ball for the Golden Eagles.

"I've always wanted to play for him because I've seen what he's done for different programs and I've seen how he's developed different players to get to different levels," Bennett Jr. said.

"Because of the level he began to play at, there were quite a few options, but we were really fortunate that he could see the benefits of coming here," Bennett Sr. said.

The younger Bennett is excelling with his team, but before he had this opportunity, he had to overcome other obstacles. Bennett Jr. was diagnosed with alopecia as a teenager.

"It's an autoimmune disease. But in basic terms it's just -- I lose my hair in different places, but now everywhere," Bennett Jr. said.

"I think as parents we were a little concerned that it would effect his mentality and his love of life. But it really, (touch wood) so far, it hasn't," Bennett Sr. said.

"I like it. I've grown into it and I enjoy it. It's easy. It's, you know, get out of the shower, wipe my hair. It's easy," Bennett Jr. said.

Then -- another obstacle. As Bennett Jr. arrived on the Marquette campus, he was recovering from a broken leg.

"My parents, my club coaches, they really helped me get through it. It was the first time that anything like that had happened. So at first it was traumatic, but as it went on it was okay," Bennett Jr. said.

Now, Bennett Jr. is thriving on the field -- and so is his relationship with his dad.

"We're now hitting our stride because he's handled it really well. I mean, I'm never called Dad on campus. I think it takes him a few minutes when we're at home for him to change gears and we become Dad again. But we've always talked soccer," Bennett Sr. said.

"It's just different times he's Coach. Different times it's Dad. So, making sure which one's which is important. But, we always figure that out," Bennett Jr. said.

The two have also figured out how special these next four years will be.

"I definitely want to make him proud. I want to make him enjoy the time that he's had with me here. Just look back and say 'wow, this was a lot of fun,'" Bennett Jr. said.

"I don't want to be too philosophical, but life is too fragile when you look at it. We think it's forever and it's never forever. So to have him here, we're enjoying that. When he's gone, I'm sure we're going to look back and say 'remember the time, I wish he was here.' We've got to all move forward," Bennett Sr. said.

Bennett Jr. has aspirations of going pro after his time at Marquette. Bennett Jr.'s mom, and Bennett Sr.'s wife attends most of Marquette's soccer matches.

CLICK HERE to learn more about Marquette University soccer.

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