Columbia man a first for Hopkins soccer Leo Weil to coach women's team to be elevated to varsity

July 05, 1992|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,Staff Writer

A 47-year-old Columbia resident is the Johns Hopkins University's first women's varsity soccer coach.

Leo Weil, a Soccer Association of Columbia traveling team coach for the past 13 years, was notified of his new job about two weeks ago.

Hopkins is trying to upgrade its women's athletic program, and will raise women's soccer from club team status to the varsity level in September.

Weil has coached elite-level girls teams for 12 of his 13 years with SAC. His current Chargers club team had won three straight state cups until losing its title, 3-1, a few weeks ago.

Some key members of that under-16 Chargers team include Nat Froman (Wilde Lake), Carrie Brelsford (Wilde Lake), Kacy Williams (Hammond), Renee Trellis ( Wilde Lake) and Laura Bradburn (Centennial).

In addition to club soccer, he has coached in the county's women's recreation league for 10 years.

Weil's resume also includes a year as Hammond High's girls junior varsity coach, and a year as Wilde Lake High's boys junior varsity coach.

In addition to coaching soccer, Weil, a psychologist who lives in the neighborhood of Owen Brown, has served as vice president of the Washington Area Girls Soccer League for 10 years.

His appointment to the Hopkins coaching position was part luck, part convenience.

A former SAC coach, Mark Butler, coaches the men's soccer team at Hopkins, and recommended Weil for the women's job.

"I had always had it in the back of my mind that I might want to do something like this, but it's not really something I had actively sought out," Weil said. "It's just something that came along."

He was able take the job because his work as a psychologist at a special education school for the emotionally handicapped -- The School For Contemporary Education -- is just two miles from Hopkins.

"That makes it awfully convenient," Weil said. "I couldn't have taken the job if I wasn't working so close by."

Weil's stepdaughter, Carol McConnell, 23, played soccer at Hammond High and was Player of the Year in 1986. His son, Paul, also played at Hammond, and father and son now play on the same recreation team.

Weil became involved with soccer by coaching his stepdaughter. He started playing soccer himself 10 years ago to achieve a fresh perspective on the game.

"I never thought I'd enjoy coaching, but seeing the kids improve is as much fun as playing," Weil said.

He hopes to continue playing the sport as a goalie until he reaches age 50.

"I'm still improving," he said.

Weil believes women soccer players are much more skilled than players 10 years ago.

"The level of competition is just so superior for girls now," he said. "It's a good time to be in girls soccer because there are a lot of new programs and scholarships. There are particularly a lot of opportunities in this area because two U.S. World Cup Championship team members coach at George Washington (Shannon Higgins) and Maryland (April Heinrichs)."

Weil has enjoyed seeing some of the players he coached on his first teams return to Columbia as players and coaches in the women's league.

Some members of his first team still active in soccer include Carol Beyers, Beth Heydt and Suzanne Stewart.

He'll continue to coach the Chargers club team, which plays its main schedule in the spring. Soccer is a fall sport at Hopkins.

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