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Henderson goalie, 16, becomes youngest to play in USL

When the USL’s Real Monarchs inserted 16-year-old Gavin Beavers into their starting 11 as goalkeeper against San Antonio June 26, it was more than giving a precocious youngster a chance to show what he could do.

It also made history.

At 16, the Henderson native became the youngest keeper to ever start a game in domestic soccer’s top development league.

“I wasn’t as nervous as I thought I was going to be,” the product of Las Vegas’ Heat FC youth program said about making several key saves in Real’s 1-1 draw. “I was more excited just to play. It was something I had been working for my entire life.”

All 16 years, 1 month and 29 days of it. After starting a second game, a 3-2 victory against New Mexico United, Beavers seems on the path of becoming a grizzled veteran and talks of seeing how far the game will take him.

“One of my biggest goals is to eventually and hopefully play for the (U.S.) national team, in the MLS, and then maybe overseas at some point,” said the lanky shot stopper who after a recent growth spurt now stands 6 feet, 4 inches.

Beavers, who would have played high school soccer at Coronado had he not signed with Real Salt Lake shortly before COVID hit, said the RSL academy is probably a lot like playing soccer in college except you aren’t allow to skip class.

“They lay out the schedule pretty good,” he said of leaving family, friends and the tradition high school experience behind to play academy soccer. “We’re like family. We go to school together, eat together, sleep in dorm rooms together. It’s a lot more fun than college, I think.”

Perhaps high school, too.

Beavers said he played 20 minutes during a preseason game against the MLS’ Vancouver Whitecaps FC during which he saved a penalty kick. At that moment, missing out on prom probably didn’t seem like such a big deal.

Chip off the (engine) block

— During an interview with the Review-Journal this week, NASCAR champion Kyle Busch of Las Vegas brightened at the mention of his 6-year-old son, Brexton, winning a couple of races recently, including his debut in a quarter-midget car.

“When he started he didn’t know the kind of effort and work that it took to be good at it. Now he’s been paying attention to some of the races on TV, asking questions, me telling him things,” the proud papa said of his little guy’s “maturation” as a race car driver.

“He’s listening half the time at least.”

Around the horn

— When former New Mexico basketball coach Fran Fraschilla commended Canada’s national basketball team on rallying from 10 points down with 57 seconds remaining to force overtime against the Czech Republic in Olympic qualifying, ex-UNLV basketball player Curtis Terry was quick to respond on Twitter with a similar memory of his own: “That’s pretty good, BUT … in February 2005 @TheRunninRebels were down 10 at San Diego State with 21 secs left, tied the game at the buzzer and won in OT … just saying.”

— Coolest thing on Facebook this week: Robert Smith, the point guard on the Rebels’ first NCAA Final Four team, shown shooting baskets with one hand while seated in a wheelchair, with fellow Rebels “Hardway Eight” member “Sudden” Sam Smith (no relation) getting rebounds (when there was one.) Robert Smith is recovering from a major stroke in 2019.

— If you don’t think the A’s are serious about finding a new home in Las Vegas, consider this: The team recently drew only 14,000 fans for a three-game series against the Texas Rangers at Oakland Coliseum. A Wednesday night gathering of 4,320 was the A’s smallest crowd in 34 years.

0:01

Former Nevada Gov. Bob Miller, on playing in the 1996 Las Vegas Invitational, scene of Tiger Woods’ first PGA Tour victory, when it still was a pro-am event.

Miller was at physical therapy with Keith Kleven, Tiger’s physical therapist and a member of the Southern Nevada Hall of Fame, when, Miller said, “Keith reminded Tiger that I played with him, to which Tiger said: ‘Oh yes, I remember. You are the guy who hit a bridge and two trees on 17.’”

To which the then-governor meekly replied: “But I parred the hole.”

Contact Ron Kantowski at rkantowski@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0352. Follow @ronkantowski on Twitter.

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