As we continue our Black History month educational stories we now stay close to home in the USA as we feature a pioneering soccer player who had so much talent. So talented that he was drafted directly out of high school by the NASL’s Minnesota Kicks, which traded him to one of the most famous international teams from within the North American Soccer League, The New York Cosmos. The Cosmos were stacked with all star players from around the world, however this great American was able to break through the color barriers as the first native black American to make it to the upper echelons of the sport. Darryl Gee, a Maryland native, made his career in the North American Soccer League followed by the Major Indoor Soccer League. Gee grew up in Columbia, Md. where he was an outstanding high school soccer player for the Oakland Mills Scorpions. He scored over 50 goals in just 2 seasons at Oakland Mills and was named the 1980 Baltimore Sun High School Athlete of the Year.
We pick this player because our last two recognitions came from (Malawi) Africa and (Guyana) in the Caribbean and with the triangle of blackness theory this story of an American pioneer would add to the great theory of excellence as referenced by Dom Basil of Howard University.
To refresh your memories, the triangle of blackness, according to Dom Basil “started in Africa, went to the Caribbean and then goes, at its furthest point away, in America. And there was that link that would link back to Africa with the kind of excellence. He went on to add that “the whole African diaspora could look on this one team in reference to Howard’s undefeated 19-0 national championship team of 1974, as an example of the best that we can be.”
By his senior year at Oakland Mills, Gee had been named an All-American, picked for the 1980 U.S. Olympic team and named national co-winner of the Hertz Number One High School Athlete Award — which he shared with basketball’s Michael Jordan. Soon after, he signed a pro contract with the New York Cosmos as the first American-born black player in the North American Soccer League. Gee even had a full scholarship offer from the University of North Carolina where the great Michael Jordan won a championship. The great Afro-Brazilian star Carlos Alberto was a mentor to the Americans on the Cosmos and it is to be recalled that it was at half time of the Flamengo vs. Cosmos game that Alberto gave his jersey to Gee. Another excellent exchange of baton to a younger generation. Gee remained with the Cosmos, playing both indoor and outdoor seasons, until the team folded in 1984. He went on to sign with the Maryland Bays of the American Soccer League. In 1990, the Bays won the APSL title as Gee decided to retire from playing and go into coaching.
In 1999, Gee coached the Maryland Mania of the USL A-League and owned and operated the Darryl Gee Soccer Academy in Gaithersburg, Md. He was inducted into the Maryland Soccer Hall of Fame. We honor a legend of the beautiful game on this edition of our social media features.