Oct. 8, 2004
By Brian Witter
The Santa Clara
As a freshman, Will Weatherly was walk-on athlete. As a senior, he is now captain and key contributor to the men's soccer team.
After starting every match for the Broncos and leading the team in scoring last year, Weatherly looks forward to getting back to the NCAA Tournament this December as well as life after Santa Clara soccer.
In addition to on-the-field honors such as 2003 All-West Coast Conference First Team and the All-College Cup Team, Weatherly, an accounting major with a 3.6 grade point average, was chosen for last season's WCC First Team All-Academic as well.
"There's still an empty spot on my record, and that's winning the national championship," Weatherly said. "This year is going to be my last chance to accomplish something as spectacular as that and I want to go the whole way."
Two games into WCC play, Weatherly had two goals and two assists, leading the Broncos to an imposing 9-1-0 record.
In the fall of 2001, Weatherly entered Santa Clara after having graduated from Newport High School in Bellevue, Wash., where he was the team's leading scorer for three consecutive seasons.
Weatherly admitted only a few small schools tried to actively recruit him, but he declined because he wanted to attend a larger university. With a desire to continue playing soccer in college, Weatherly tried out for the men's team.
"I was super nervous when I first went out there, but I tried my hardest and got lucky," Weatherly said.
The 5-foot-9 freshman forward went on to make the team and played in 14 matches. His final total of 12 shots was the second highest for any freshman on the team.
As a sophomore, Weatherly scored five goals and played in every match for the Broncos.
Last season, Weatherly led the Broncos in scoring with seven goals and three assists. In addition, he had a conference-high 62 shot attempts, 21 of which were on goal. But Weatherly's goal average was not the only reason for his nomination as captain.
"Will has a lot of love for this team and is most definitely one of our father figures," Senior Zach Knight said. "He never hesitates in giving advice to anyone and always leads by example. His strong work ethic rubs off on a lot of us and we respect him greatly."
The Broncos' head coach Cameron Rast echoed Knight in praising Weatherly.
"Will is an ideal captain due to his conscientious manner towards being consistent," Rast said. "He is very attack-minded which has worked for us recently."
Last Sunday, in a game against the University of San Francisco, Weatherly stuck to his strategy of attacking offensively and pushed the ball downfield, to help the Broncos win 1-0 in the 88th minute.
Having little time for other activities besides some occasional X-Box gaming, he admits that helping his team prepare for matches is one of his biggest responsibilities.
"Personally, I like to visualize in my head the things I want to get done so I know what I need to do in the situation of a game," Weatherly said. "Helping the other guys prepare is really important to my game as well. You've got to appear as a friend, but you've also got to be willing to take and give criticism where it is needed."
The daunting task of being a student athlete may leave some people exhausted and with an apathetic attitude towards schoolwork, but not Weatherly.
"I figure out what I need to get done during the week, and manage my time accordingly," Weatherly said.
As Weatherly's accolades have grown, so have the rumors that he is considering pursuing a professional career.
"I'd love to continue playing soccer after Santa Clara," Weatherly said. "If I continue to play well this season, then I hope that the possibilities will open up, but of course, nothing is for sure."
For now, Weatherly and his teammates are focused on making a return to the NCAA Tournament and winning a national crown.
Friday, the Broncos will play the University of Portland, the first of five straight road games against WCC teams.
"We bring our top play to each and every match but we're definitely not perfect, so there's a chance that any one team can beat us," Weatherly said. "Yet, I think the worst thing that could ever happen is for us to lose and realize that we didn't play our best game."
Regardless of his success, Weatherly attributes much of his and the team's success to others.
"Guys like Medhi Ballouchy who are very skilled add a certain element to our team that makes us better and more confident after we win," Weatherly said. "Right now our team has really good chemistry and also some really lofty goals, but I think we can be real happy if we go out and try our hardest."
Making it as a walk-on for a NCAA Division I team is rare. Weatherly and teammate Junior midfielder Jason Cunliffe are among the few.
Whether or not the Broncos make the NCAA Championships is undecided. However, Weatherly's past has strengthened his competitiveness and resolve, which can only help one of the nation's best teams as they prep for another run in the NCAA Tournament.