Junior Ian Fincke came to Johnson as a junior, the first year the campus opened. But a tragic accident took his life that same year. Every year since then, the campus community comes together to remember Ian and work for Ian’s Foundation out on the soccer field.
“Ian’s Foundation was formed in memory of our son, Ian Fincke, to advance the safety and welfare of San Antonio youth,” Ian’s mother, Stephanie Fincke, said. “Through our unique educational programming, our foundation seeks to provide a platform by which San Antonio’s youth are exposed to consequences of accidental trauma, encouraged to engage in activities and behavior aligned with personal safety, and pursue individual academic excellence.”
To help fundraise, the annual Ian’s Cup was created. It’s the signature varsity soccer game between Reagan High School and Johnson High School, both of which Ian attended.
“The school with the highest aggregate score for the evening will take home bragging rights and the coveted trophy,” Fincke said. “Scholarships will be awarded to four seniors selected by Ian’s Foundation board. Awarded seniors will also select a local organization to receive a matching $500 award.”
The foundation is unable to do the traditional soccer clinic, due to COVID-19 restrictions, but will still continue with the cup on March 5.
“We’ll be counting on sponsor support and t-shirt sales to help us continue to provide scholarships as we have done in the past,” Fincke said. “We’re also offering a virtual gift card pull fundraiser. Every $25 gift card pull purchased online is guaranteed a $25 gift card to a local business with some being valued over $100.”
The gift card pull can be purchased at https://www.ianscup.org/apparel, along with t-shirts, long sleeves, hoodies, headbands, blankets, and bracelets. All orders placed by Feb. 15 are guaranteed before game day.
“There are usually hundreds of fans in the stadium to cheer both teams on. It’s usually the most attended soccer game for both Johnson and Reagan,” Fincke said. “It’s fun to see the sea of blue and green with a mixture of purple in the stands. It’s a night of competition between both schools but also a coming together to remember Ian and his legacy.”
Ian’s Foundation is completely volunteer-based, and is always looking for volunteers. Many of the helmet safety events are postponed, but events will be scheduled in the spring. Volunteer information can be found on https://www.iansfoundation.org/volunteer.
“The loss of a child can be profoundly heartbreaking, but the loss of a child that could have been prevented is even more devastating,” Fincke said. “Knowing we can make a difference and prevent another family from suffering a tragic loss has allowed us the passion and dedication to continue Ian’s Foundation and protect our youth while keeping Ian’s memory alive.”
“Ian’s love for soccer was such an important part of who he was. He truly loved the game and wore his heart on his sleeve when he was on the field,” Fincke said. “Ian played for Reagan before transferring to Johnson the year it opened and had aspirations to play for Johnson while he was there.”
Johnson is currently in possession of the cup. If the game results in a tie, the teams have to share the cup for half a year each.
“Being in my third year here, I think it’s awesome. We didn’t have anything like this in my previous school, and certainly the buzz is real when it comes time for Ian’s Cup. Kids who have never even talked to me about a soccer game all year long, will come up to me in the hallway and be like ‘hey, good luck at Ian’s Cup tonight’ or ‘I’m going to be there’,” girls varsity coach Scott Stone said. “The crowd is quadruple the normal size. There’s always a lot of electricity in the air and it’s always a lot of fun.”
Many in the San Antonio community believe the Ian’s Foundation and Ian’s Cup are important.
“Well it’s important on many levels. One, to honor Ian, and his parents are the head of the foundation, so it’s an opportunity for the soccer community to continue to heal and help that family,” Stone said. “It’s important to us, because it’s a district game and that carries a lot of significance. There’s never a Johnson-Reagan game that isn’t important. So it carries a lot of weight, but for whatever reason, when you put a big trophy on the line, it just feels more important and it’s a lot of fun.”
“Do anything you can to support Ian’s Foundation. It is one of those charities where you know every penny goes directly to what it’s supposed to, as opposed to large, bureaucratic bodies,” Stone said. “It is purely a San Antonio thing and it’s for San Antonio kids and it’s awesome.”