The first thing you notice about Milwaukee Wave forward Ian Bennett is his smile. It’s incandescent and lights up any arena he and his Wave teammates are gracing.
The next thing you notice about the Major Arena Soccer League’s premier player is the way he embraces the game of indoor soccer and its fans.
“I love the game, I love every moment of being on the field, interacting with fans – winning championships,” he said. “There are a lot of things to love, but when you win a championship, that is the ultimate team experience.”
He is the total package, and he will be at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena at 7:05 tonight when the MASL defending champion Wave take on the Kansas City Comets.
Bennett has been a part of the Wave for a decade, and has been a part of three championships. The team won championships in his second and third seasons, and again last season.
Bennett led the Wave in goals each of the past five seasons, increasing his total each year. And he enters tonight’s game with a team-high 14 goals and 16 total points.
He is also a husband – he and wife Tori have two daughters, ages 10 and 7 – and an entrepreneur, as he owns his own highly successful clothing line, ib26.
And in an age of unapproachable superstars, the only reason you might not have Bennett’s autograph is because you haven’t asked.
“I am living a dream, and I am able to live this dream because of the fans,” Bennett said. “I coach, I speak to kids any time I have the chance and I love what I do. If I can spend a moment or two and make a fan happy, I’m going to do it.
“You or your child can contact me, or find me some way or send the Wave a letter, and I can respond and really work with the kid and give him that insight they might not get from someone else.”
Milwaukee businessman Mike Zimmerman has owned the team since 2014, and Bennett loves playing for him.
“When I was asked if I wanted to play in Milwaukee, after my Chicago team folded, I had to find out where Milwaukee was,” the Canadian native said, with a laugh. “I knew Chicago and Minnesota and didn’t know there was anything in between.
“So I visited Milwaukee and fell in love with it. Mike is a great owner. I recently signed a lifetime contract, which is great. But before I signed, I asked Mike if that meant I had to play until I was 90.
“He promised me that wouldn’t happen.”
– Bill Althaus is a sports writer and columnist for The Examiner. Reach him at email@example.com or 816-350-6333. Follow him on Twitter: @AlthausEJC