By Lee Shappell
Special for Wrangler News
Perseverance. Determination. Hard work. Andrew Weber says they’re his pillars of success.
Weber, who grew up in Tempe, rode those attributes to a Division 1 college scholarship in men’s soccer at New Mexico, then through the gauntlet of making a living in the sport when there were few opportunities nearly two decades ago, and now to new frontiers in business.
At this time last summer, Weber, 35, a McClintock High product who now lives in Scottsdale, was making big saves that landed him Most Outstanding Goalkeeper in the 6v6 World Championships in Portugal for Team USA.
Having played in Major League Soccer (he was on an MLS championship team with the Portland Timbers) and the United Soccer League, Weber now is a sought-after goalkeeper coach. Weber has opened a coaching clinic for goalkeepers in the Valley, Net Kings Elite (netkingselite.com).
And after bumping into a soccer acquaintance he hadn’t seen in years while buying a TV at a big-box store, he is entering into the world of sustainable energy as a consultant.
“It’s funny. Soccer is such a small world, and it brings people together,” Weber said. “That’s what I loved about it when I was young, the way it helped me get through rough times, the family feeling of it. I just found myself migrating toward it.
“Soccer gave me a chance to see the world.” In most of the rest of the world, where it is known as football, soccer is king; even 6v6, or small-sided soccer, which is played not only with fewer players but also on a smaller field with smaller goals than traditional soccer. Crowds in Lisbon embraced it last summer.
It was Team USA’s first appearance in the 6v6 World Cup, where it made a valiant run before falling to champion Germany.
In this country, the 6v6 World Cup was little more than a rumor.
Although soccer is growing, especially with women now playing it professionally, too, American football still is king. But in soccer, there is less equipment to buy and concussions do not seem to be front of the public’s mind.
“I believe that soccer is a cultural thing,” Weber said. “It’s ingrained just about everywhere else in the world. I will say that it’s coming on fast here. Look at the Women’s World Cup this summer. You can see our country is getting behind the sport. The culture is shifting.”
Andrew not only played soccer at McClintock, he was the Chargers’ kicker of the football team.
“They didn’t have Arizona State men’s soccer here,” he said.
“I always thought it would do great because of the talent pool. Kids had to go out of state to play.
“Now, look at Grand Canyon University and that beautiful soccer stadium they built. And you have Benedictine University. It’s growing. The sport is definitely moving in the right direction and giving kids an opportunity to get a good education right here.”
After college, the real scramble began for Weber. “I went through so much in those days, but it was worth it,” Weber said.
“It’s easier today for kids coming out of college to make a living in soccer because the money’s better. The other side of the coin is more foreign kids are playing in the MLS because at home they can’t make that kind of money.
“I tell kids I mentor to just work hard and stay motivated. It will work out.”