EL PASO, TEXAS (KTSM) – The last three years of life for El Paso Locomotive FC defender Drew Beckie have been a roller coaster. He seemed to be on the verge of a lucrative overseas contract in 2017, when a major health scare with myocarditis nearly upended his career all together.
Through it all though, Beckie is still here, and still defending.
Just looking at him, Beckie seems to be as fit as any man could be. He patrols the backline for Locomotive FC, running upwards of five miles on any given night for El Paso. However, less than three years ago, the Canadian wasn’t sure if he’d ever be able to play soccer again.
“It took away everything I had ever known, my way of making money,” said Beckie.
In December, 2017, Beckie was in Sweden visiting a friend after trying out for a club in Finland. During his audition, he was playing while battling a seemingly-routine virus, but it started a domino effect.
“When you’re training and you’re not feeling well and your blood is pumping faster. For some reason the virus got caught in the heart muscle and decided to attack that,” said Beckie.
His friend had left to go get groceries, leaving Beckie at home while he tried to relieve some back pain, fend for himself, and suddenly it seemed, fend for his life.
“Within the 30 minutes he was gone, the pain moved up my back, my arms went numb, my jaw went numb,” said Beckie. “It felt like an elephant was sitting on my chest.”
Rushed to the hospital, Beckie was diagnosed with Myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle. A rare but potentially fatal disease, it can come on quickly.
“Where you see players where they’re feeling fine, then suddenly pass on a court, or have a heart failure due to an enlarged heart or something like that, that could by Myocarditis. It’s very under-diagnosed and hard to diagnose,” said Beckie.
He spent two weeks in the hospital in Sweden before returning stateside, but his journey had just begun. Doctors told him not to put any stress on his heart, which meant absolutely no physical activity.
“6-8 months, no exercise,” he said. “Do not elevate your heart rate, because there could be sudden death.”
That meant no soccer, so while seeing a specialist in Jacksonville, Florida, Beckie worked odd jobs around the city and leaned on a support group that included Locomotive teammate Yuma and head coach Mark Lowry, who were with Beckie with Jacksonville Armada in 2017.
“That’s the big thing I missed the most, being around the guys,” said Beckie. “Yes, I missed training and playing, but being around a group of men is the most important part.”
Five months after the scare of his life in Sweden, Beckie went back to the doctor in Jacksonville. Scans of his heart came back normal officially clearing him to train again.
“That was the best feeling in the world,” he said.
After getting back in shape, Beckie played portions of 2018 and 2019 with USL Championship club Oklahoma City Energy, before getting traded to El Paso last year. Beckie says it isn’t likely for Myocarditis to come back, but he does have an important message for other athletes.
“If you are feeling sick, don’t try to go sweat it off. Don’t try to go for a run and get it out of your system,” said Beckie. “That’s what I did. That’s what the doctor said: this is what happens, it’s more prevalent in athletes.”
A documentary titled “Still Defending,” detailing Beckie’s journey battling Myocarditis and back to playing professional soccer was released earlier this month. It can be seen for free on the documentary’s website.
Beckie and Locomotive FC are back in action on Friday at home against New Mexico United.