Soccer has always been more than a game for Stephanie Wieger, consuming her life from an early age. She is new to SF State but has been in the soccer game for years, as her favorite hobby turned into her career.
“I dread the day I have to get a ‘real’ job,” Wieger joked. “I don’t know anything different.”
Wieger joined the Gator women’s soccerteam this year as assistant coach, a position formerly held by Mary Trigg.
The team has just finished a winning season with hopes of returning to the NCAA championship, and Weiger is thrilled to be a part of such an exciting time.
Wieger’s earliest soccer days began when she was seven in her hometown of Concord, Calif., where she played on club teams. Wieger attended Carondelet High School, a private all girls’ Catholic school with a reputable soccer program.
“They had a better soccer team, so I had to go there,” Wieger said.
Wieger went on to play as a forward for UC Berkeley where she started in 33 out of 76 games. She finished her career at Berkeley with 14 goals and 11 assists. Wieger received her degree in classics.
“I’m a total nerd,” Wieger said. “Both in the classroom and about soccer.”
The transition from player to coach came when Wieger was offered the opportunity to coach at Boise State University. Wieger was unsure of her next move after graduation, and jumped at the opportunity. She coached and attended a graduate program at Boise State for three years before moving back to the Bay Area.
“It was a great experience,” Wieger said. Boise State paid for her graduate program and she only needs two classes to complete her master’s in education.
Although Wieger said her three years at Boise State were rewarding and unforgettable, she was eager to return to California.
“I wanted to come back home and be with my family. Also, soccer in Idaho is still developing. I wanted to get back to the higher level of competition.”
Outside of the soccer world Wieger is a self-proclaimed nerd and movie buff, saying that movies were the only way her two younger sisters and parents could spend an evening together. Now that Wieger is back in the Bay Area she spends most of her free time with her family and catching up with old friends. But during the soccer season, she says all of her focus will be on the team.
“I’ll be glued to soccer,” Wieger said. “I want to know everything I can about (the team) as soon as possible. That helps me coach them better.”
When Wieger applied for the assistant coaching job at SF State she thought her chances were slim.
“I didn’t think I even had a great shot of getting this job,” Wieger said.
Head coach Jack Hyde looks forward to a successful season with his new assistant coach. During the interview process, Hyde found Wieger the best candidate due to her three year Division I experience at Boise State.
“Also I’d gotten some good recommendations about how hard she works,” Hyde said. “I’m very excited she’s here.”
Wieger has high expectations for the team and hopes her experience can assist in getting them to the NCAA championship once again. Wieger says much of her focus will be on stimulating the offense and encouraging her forwards to shoot as much as possible.
“They need to recognize when there’s space to go and when there’s time to pass,” Wieger said. “I think they need to be a little bit more selfish.”
Wieger also put emphasis on the need for “high pressure” which she hopes will challenge the other teams’ defense by putting three forwards up front to cause “crazy, flashing chaos”.
Wieger’s coaching philosophy stems from her attitude as a player. She believes in mental toughness and perseverance. She believes in coming out on top through whatever happens on the field, and she expects her team to have those same expectations.
“They’re awesome,” Wieger said of the team. “They work their butts off every single game and as long as they do that, there’s no way I can be disappointed in what they do out there on the field.”
Senior Andrea Carey agrees the shift has been smooth. Wieger’s offense experience is sure to help the forwards, but Carey expects Wieger will be a strong influence throughout the entire team.
“Things have been going really good,” Carey said. She is a captain and starts at center midfield. “(Wieger) really fits in well. She knows a lot about soccer.”
Wieger’s transition from player to coach has been a rewarding experience and has kept her a part of the soccer community, something that she is thankful for.
“I’m still doing it,” Wieger said of her dedication to the game. “I still haven’t left.”