Morgan Weaver - Co-Female Amateur Athlete of the Year
By Bill Schey
On the way to scoring 93 goals in her four-year career at Curtis High School -- and becoming one of the finest female soccer players the region has produced -- Morgan Weaver came by her love of the sport rather naturally.
When Morgan was a baby, Mike Weaver was a youth soccer coach and sometimes carried along his infant daughter in one of those front-side carrying pouches while he coached games on the sidelines.
What was launched in the University Place rec leagues has turned into quite a journey for Weaver, 18, who is committed to continuing her soccer career as a forward-midfielder at Washington State University next fall. She will leave Curtis with a boatload of achievements, including 40 assists and South Puget Sound League championships the past three years (Curtis shared the 2015 title with Puyallup). She was the league's most valuable player all three years.
Weaver was named to the 4A all-state team in 2013, 2014 and 2015 by the Washington State Soccer Coaches Association, and she was selected MVP her final season. She was also The News Tribune's All-Area player of the year all three years.
As a senior captain, Weaver racked up big numbers -- 36 goals (including three 4-goal games) and 11 assists last fall, helped lead the Vikings to the state 4A quarterfinals and was selected to play in the High School All-American Match in December in Raleigh, N.C.
Big as those accomplishments were, Weaver was perhaps even more impressive for her club team, Washington Premier, with which she won two national championships with 96 ECNL. She now plays for 97 ECNL. She played four years for Federal Way Reign and the past five years for Washington Premier.
The lanky Weaver's most obvious assets are explosive speed and strength, but she says Seth Spidahl, who coaches Washington Premier as well as the Pacific Lutheran University women's team, and Aaron Kimura of Federal Way Reign speeded along her development.
"Aaron worked with me on the fundamentals and ball skills, and coach Spidahl has always been there supporting me and turned me into the player I am today," Weaver said
This spring, at the urging of a friend, Curtis track athlete Reggie Hayden, Weaver elected to try her hand in track and field. She quickly established herself as one of the state's better sprinters, and was handed the role as anchor runner on both the 4 x 400 and 4 x 200 relay teams, both ranked in the top three in the state. The 4 x 4 unit combined for a meet record 4 minutes, 2.49 seconds at the 29th annual Viking Relays.
Frank Hankel, the girls and boys soccer coach at Curtis, says Weaver's intensity makes everyone around her better, and he raves about her breakaway speed.
"She's exceptionally quick and fast, one of the top 400 runners in the state," he said in listing off Weaver's skills. "Power, she's strong, very strong legs. And she has a lot of drive. Few players are as fast, as strong, as driven -- and play at that fast pace. Those things make her special."
Hankel says he'll remember the Weaver Era well.
"Her class was the first group of freshmen to play here at Curtis," Hankel said. "She kind of hit her growth spurt early, and she produced right away. She played 75 games for us, and this class of seniors winning three SPSL titles back to back is something I will remember. The rivalry games with Puyallup, and Morgan bringing a lot of joy to Curtis in those years."
As one of five 2016 seniors to play all four years at Curtis, Weaver has her own memories.
"When I first started playing soccer I played with most of these girls," she said of her rec days in University Place. "When I left that team (for the Federal Way Reign after U11 soccer) I thought, 'Wow, I'm never going to play with them again.' When it came to high school, and we got to play with each other again, it just feels like old times. It's great."
Probably her favorite moment came on Oct. 17 in a 5-0 win over Rogers.
"It was Senior Night. Being able to play with all my friends and my (freshman) sister Isabella was amazing," Weaver said. "We had a corner kick, Isabella made the kick and I scored on a header. ... It was so special because we had never been able to play on the same team before."
One guy who probably won't miss Weaver playing for Curtis is Puyallup coach Matt White.
"Her first step is amazing," White said. "And Morgan's athleticism is off the charts. Most people go, 'Well, we'll man-mark her and we'll shut her down that way.' Well, that only applies if you have as good of an athlete."
The next chapters of the Weaver soccer saga will unfold in Pullman. Just how was it she decided to become a Coug?
"It's funny, I was always a Husky fan. My dad, too," Weaver said, noting that was before the Cougars coaching staff came calling. "They couldn't contact me personally, so their coaches contacted (Spidahl) saying they would like to talk to Morgan. I called their assistant coach Jon (Harvey), and he was super nice. So I took a visit and went over there. The players and coaches, everyone was so nice, it just felt like home and like family.
"I liked the campus, and their facility is so nice -- I just fell in love with the place."
Hankel thinks it's a good fit for Weaver's further maturity as a player. Coach Todd Shulenberger's Cougars finished 7-4 in the Pacific-12 last season, defeated rival UW and went to the NCAA playoffs for the fifth straight season.
"She's watched them (the Cougars) play," he said, "and she's realized that you’ve got to bring your best every day because they have 25 other players who could take your spot."