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Remembering Jimmy Banks

Pioneering Diversity in American Soccer

Jimmy Banks' exceptional soccer journey originated in the Westlawn housing projects, where soccer was far from the norm. His unwavering passion propelled him from these humble beginnings to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and eventually to professional success with the Milwaukee Wave.


In 1990, Jimmy made history by becoming the first Wisconsinite to play in the World Cup and one of just two African-American players to join the U.S. National Team. It was a Jackie Robinson moment for Milwaukee, U.S. Soccer, and fans around the world.


Jimmy Banks challenged the prevailing American stereotype of soccer as a white and upper-middle-class sport. His legacy reshaped the game, increasing the diversity of recent U.S. National Team lineups. Across the nation, young Black men finally saw someone who looked like them, igniting the dreams of countless future soccer players.

After retiring from the US team and the Milwaukee Wave, Banks spent the next few decades as a coach at the Milwaukee School of Engineering. He also founded the Milwaukee Simbas Soccer Club to impart life values like hard work, respect, and collaboration through soccer to inner-city children. Tragically, Jimmy passed away in 2019 at the age of 54 due to cancer.


Jimmy Banks' story is a testament to breaking barriers and paving the way for a more inclusive future in U.S. soccer, inspiring generations to come.

After we reach this GOOOOAAAAAAL, further community projects are planned, such as student scholarships and more!

Jimmy Banks and the 1990 US National Team

Join the Friends of Jimmy Banks

Honoring Legacy, Inspiring Change

The Friends of Jimmy Banks is a collective of friends, former players and coaches, family members, and dedicated volunteers deeply devoted to the Wisconsin soccer community. In 2022, we organized and proudly achieved the renaming of Custer Stadium, Jimmy's beloved high school venue, to the Jimmy Banks Memorial Stadium.


Our next endeavor? To give the community a significant public mural. This mural will serve as a source of inspiration and representation, particularly for the children in Jimmy's old neighborhood, offering them a tangible connection to his legacy when they pass by the Jimmy Banks Memorial Stadium. We wish to continue Jimmy’s mission to broaden their horizons in both athletic and academic pursuits.


Turning this vision into a reality requires $40,000 in support. Every donation preserves vital Milwaukee history and the profound impact of Jimmy Banks. Will you join to ensure that Jimmy's story continues to transform lives and spur positive change within our community? Together, we can make a lasting difference.

November 2022 gathering at the newly named Jimmy Banks Memorial Stadium

“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.”
- Jimmy Banks