When Kevin Weyand stepped onto United States soil for the first time in September, he barely knew English. Common phrases were all he understood before he entered Tumwater High School as a senior exchange student from Baumberg, Germany, about 10 miles from Dsseldorf.
Soccer – a sport he’s played since age 3 – has made the transition to a new country easier, and it has drawn the “Who’s he?” question from opponents.
Weyand, a forward, has been a big weapon for the 2A Evergreen Conference champion Thunderbirds’ boys soccer team, which opens the 2A District IV tournament Saturday as the No. 1 seed when it faces W.F. West at home. Tumwater captured its first league title in boys soccer since 1996 and finished the regular season unbeaten at 13-0-2 after Tuesday’s victory over Black Hills in the Pioneer Cup.
“We happened to be blessed with a pretty magical year,” Tumwater coach Bryan Winkler said.
Through 15 regular-season games, Weyand has scored 20 goals. That ranks him second behind Aberdeen’s Juanito Lopez in goals scored this season.
It didn’t take Weyand long to get acquainted with his new friends and teammates and U.S. soccer, though one big difference on the field, he noted, was how much faster the European game is. He scored at least one goal in all but two games, including a four-goal output in a 5-3 nonleague win over Timberline on March 24.
“It was easy to fit in, but it took me a while,” Weyand said in fluent English. “We have good players, and it’s fun and easy to play with them. And you get to know the way they play during the game.”
Weyand is quite familiar with the United States. His older sister was an exchange student in South Dakota a few years ago. Weyand’s parents also named their son after actor Macaulay Culkin’s “Kevin” character in the early 1990s movies “Home Alone” and “Home Alone 2.”
After-school sports are not part of Weyand’s secondary school in Germany, so he mainly played club soccer on travel teams. In the fall at Tumwater, he turned out for the boys tennis team. As his English has progressed (he also knows French in addition to his native German) in a short seven months, so has making new friends and blending in.
“I’m pretty much friends with the entire school,” said Weyand, 17.
With the district tournament beginning Saturday, one thing the players know is the school’s history in boys soccer. The program has made seven trips to state, but has advanced past the first round only once (1989), and the Thunderbirds are looking to change that. Last year’s team went 7-10, ending its season with a 1-0 loss to Hockinson in the district tournament quarterfinals.
“District doesn’t look too scary for us if we play like we’ve been playing,” junior Connor Sigmon said. “Unity is a big part of our team this year.”
Two South Sound coaching positions became vacant last week as Black Hills girls soccer coach Lisa Summers and Timberline boys basketball coach Mike Tafoya resigned. Summers, who was the high school teacher of the year by the National Association for Sport and Physical Education, and her husband are expecting their first child this fall.
“Such a hard decision,” Summers said.
Summers has coached at Black Hills for 14 of the school’s 15 years of existence – from 1997-2007 and ’09 through this past fall. She did not coach in 2008. In the fall, she guided Black Hills to its best record in school history (16-4) and won the 2A EvCo title.
Tafoya led the Blazers boys basketball team for 11 seasons (two separate stints) and stepped down to focus on teaching, Timberline athletic director Pat Geiger said. Tafoya teaches history at Timberline and will be teaching more Advanced Placement classes next school year.
“He has decided that the time in extra preparation for these classes will make it difficult for him to continue as our coach,” Geiger said.
Tafoya coached the Blazers from 1998-2004 and again from ’07 through this past winter. His best season came in the 2003-’04 campaign when he led Timberline to its first state tournament appearance since 1988. That year’s team – with an all-senior starting lineup of Nate Menefee, Luis Rodriguez, Doug LaPalm, Casey Daily and Josh McCarty – went 19-7, including 1-2 at the Class 3A state tournament at the Tacoma Dome.
RUN, LUCAS, RUN
Northwest Christian senior Lucas Graham ran the race of his life last weekend at the Shoreline Invitational, running the boys mile (1,600 meters) in 4 minutes, 12.99 seconds. No boys runner from Thurston County has run that fast since Tumwater’s Dave Smith ran a 4:09 in the boys mile in 1988. Smith is now the cross country coach at Oklahoma State. Graham is the defending 2B boys state champion in the 1,600 and won the 5,000-meters at state cross country last fall. Recruiting for Graham has picked up with interest from Washington, Washington State and Purdue, Navigators coach Mike Michael said.
THIS AND THAT
Three Timberline senior football players – Jordan Thompson, James Segura-Mitchell and Zak Porche – are on the East roster of the 4A/3A East-West All-Star Football Game, set for 1 p.m. June 30 at Everett Memorial Stadium. The 48th annual Bob Shaner Invitational track and field meet begins at 4 p.m. Friday at Tumwater District Stadium. The 12-team meet will feature two athletes who have top times in the state: River Ridge sprinter Necy Wade leads Class 2A in the girls 200 (24.87), and Timberline hurdler Rashon Smith leads Class 3A in the boys 300 (38.47).email@example.com 360-754-5473 www.theolympian.com/southsoundsports Twitter: @megwochnick