The Columbus Crew's Tommy Heinemann is eager for more playing time this season.
Courtesy of the Columbus Crew

Heinemann from camp counselor to Crew forward

OBETZ, Ohio – Long before Tommy Heinemann had the bushy hair and scraggly beard that is starting to become a familiar sight to Crew fans, the forward was an entrepreneur who ran a summer soccer camp in the side yard of his St. Louis home.

He was all of 11 years old when he saw the light.

“I was trying to make money,” he said. “I was the type of kid going out, putting fliers on doors to mow the lawns. I was charging $15 for the whole week (of camp). To an 11-year-old, that was a whole lot.

“We had four kids and my mom brought watermelon out to them in the side yard,” he added. “The next year we had about eight kids, the next year 12, then it was up to 16, 18 kids.”

More than a decade later, the Heinemann Soccer Camp is still going strong and is now held down the street from Heinemann’s home to handle the 80-90 kids annually who participate.

But don’t expect Heinemann at the camp this year, largely because of his new duties with the Columbus Crew. He spent part of the 2009 preseason with the Crew before playing for the Charleston Battery (USL-2) in 2009 and ’10 before joining Carolina (USSF D-2) late last season.

He’s played 46 minutes in two MLS games as a substitute this season and has created several chances.

“Coming off the bench he brings a lot of energy,” coach Robert Warzycha said. “We just need better service for him.”

At 6-foot-4, Heinemann presents a big and fearless target.

“He’s not afraid to put his head where some people wouldn’t put their head,” Warzycha said. “He’s always in front of the goal.”

Heinemann reminds some of the spark Steven Lenhart provided before he was traded to San Jose in January.

“Do we resemble each other a little bit?” said Heinemann. “Maybe, but I think we’re different players with different strengths.”

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