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Black History Month Spotlight Series: Jahmani Stapleton


Jahmani Stapleton grew up in the shadows of Rio Tinto Stadium, attending games as a young boy, idolizing Justen Glad and Nedum Onuoha.  

Growing up in West Jordan, Utah, Stapleton had dreams of attending the RSL Academy and one day becoming a member of Real Salt Lake, just like many of the other players he had watched on his hometown team.  

As a local, Stapleton was frequently given opportunities to train with RSL Academy through the Club’s local partnerships, and as the invites continued to come the young defender began to feel as if his time might be coming.  

“I had a feeling that I was going to be offered a place at the RSL Academy, so when they called and asked for a meeting there was excitement, because I knew what might be coming.” 

And Stepleton would be correct, at the end of the meeting he was offered an official place at the RSL Academy for the upcoming 2021-22 calendar year under Head Coach Andrew May who had just led his previous team to a national championship at the 2021 MLS NEXT Cup.  

“It was incredible, I had been going to games since 2015, looking up to Homegrown guys like Sebastian Saucedo and Justen Glad, and now I had the opportunity to be a part of it.” 

At 15 years old Stapleton is mature beyond his years, a natural-born leader with compassion and charisma — much like former RSL center back Nedum Onuoha. 

“I always looked up to Nedum, not only is he a center back like myself, but also how he carried himself, his teammates viewed him as a leader just by who he was,” Stepleton said.

These characteristics are easily recognized by Jahmani’s peers and the leadership within the RSL Academy, including his head coach. 

“Jahmani has an infectious personality with the ability to lead his peers, he has this unique ability to integrate the entire team despite the many differing backgrounds in a way that only he can do,” May said of Stapleton’s importance to the team. 

In just his first year with the academy, Stapleton still has many years left within the Real Salt Lake system. But his dreams are still clear, he has hopes of one day becoming a center back for the first team in Major League Soccer, just like his idols before him. 

And after his playing career?  

Stapleton takes inspiration from those around him, like former player and U17 Head Coach Jordan Allen, and one day wants to return to the RSL Academy, this time as a coach to inspire the next generation. 1