Madison Forward FC signed their first-ever Wisconsin native, 29-year-old forward J.C. Banks after his contract expired with Jacksonville Armada FC.
“It feels good to back in Wisconsin. It’s been a while. Last time I lived hear was 2015 playing indoor with the Milwaukee Wave. It’s good to be back. It’s a little chilly but I’m glad to be here,” Banks said in an interview just before he was officially introduced to fans at an event Friday.
Hailing from Milwaukee, he attended Riverside High School and played college soccer for four years at the University of Wisconsin- Green Bay. In addition to college soccer, Banks played for the Madison 56ers in the National Premier Soccer League and Chicago Fire Premier in the USL Premier Development League.
“I think it’s a good thing for Wisconsin soccer in general to finally have a professional [outdoor] team,” he said.
Banks also played for the Rochester Rhinos and Minnesota United in his professional career but Banks said he looks forward to playing for his home state. He also said he hopes the excitement of the Flamingos helps highlight talented soccer players in Wisconsin.
“I just wanted to be a part of this. I’m getting later in my career. I would love to come back here and play for a couple of years, and win something,” Banks said.
Coach Daryl Shore and Managing Director Peter Wilt said this signing is a great direction for the Madison Forward FC franchise. Wilt said he’s known Banks since hewas born and watched him grow into the player he is today. Wilt met Banks’ father, retired defender Jimmy Banks, while he worked for Milwaukee Wave.
“I regret that several years ago I had the chance to sign him and bring him to Indianapolis but we were loaded with attacking players and forwards at that time so it wasn’t meant to be. But we’re making up for it here by bringing him back home to Wisconsin,” Wilt said. He was managing director of the USL’s Indy Eleven, based in Indianapolis.
Banks joins a roster of forwards and midfielders who have been signed to Madison Forward FC including other midwest natives, forward Brian Bement and midfielder Eric Leonard, and several international players. Shore said the Flock, Forward Madison’s supporters, will find excitement while watching Banks play on the field.
“This player came to mind for both of us, not only because of his ability on the field, and we talked about about what they do off the field, but this is one of Wisconsin’s own,” Shore said. “We felt it was really important as we build our identity of Forward Madison that we try to identify with some of Wisconsin’s own.”
Shore said they want Madison Forward FC to become a team the city can be proud of and that Banks can play either side of the wings as an attacking forward or in the midfield role. Banks said he wants to put on a good show for fans.
“I think us as players coming in we know we have to do a good job of getting out into the community and try to get people to come to the games and when they come to games we want to make sure to put on a good show so they come back. I think that just helps build soccer here and brings more interest to it,” he said.
Banks, who comes from a soccer family, said he hopes to develop the sport through inspiring the next generation. While playing for Madison Forward FC Banks hopes to get more Wisconsin youth interested the game and also said he might coach in the future. But for now Banks is ready for the inaugural season.
“I’m looking forward for 2019 to come, and looking to win the championship,” he said.