What a difference a year makes for Sammie Weaver.
At this time last year, the current starting goalkeeper and co-captain of the St. Louis Community College women’s soccer team wasn’t playing soccer anywhere.
Instead, the sophomore was at Florissant Valley, where she played volleyball as a freshman. The year was admittedly a struggle for Weaver, both individually and as a team, as the Archers were winless on the season.
Following that campaign, Weaver decided to recommit to soccer, a sport she hadn’t played since her sophomore year at Oakville High School. For the South County native, the adjustment to soccer has been smoother both on and off the field.
“It’s definitely a better environment for me here this year,” Weaver said. “I didn’t know anybody at Florissant Valley. We had girls from everywhere last year. The soccer team has bonded better, we like each other, and we’re playing better than I thought we would at this point. “
Following the difficult season in volleyball, Weaver determined soon after that she would return to the pitch. Where, however, remained in question. While many returning players from last year’s NJCAA Tournament-qualifying team elected to join former head coach Juergen Huetter at Southwestern Illinois College, Weaver remained with the Archers after weighing a similar opportunity.
A month into the season, Weaver has taken an immediate leadership role amongst what is the youngest team in years at STLCC. She has made an indelible impression on head coach Erin Hesselbach and assistant Dre Barklage.
The transition from volleyball back to soccer has come with minimal complications, as the Archers’ coaching staff has employed Weaver both in goal and in the defensive backfield. Her versatility and on-field demeanor has been a major asset in recent weeks.
“She not only has the athletic ability to play any sport, she has that role model kind of (personality),” Barklage said of Weaver. “The girls really look up to her as a leader, and she’s like a coach on the field. That’s the nice thing about having her in goal. She’s able to see what we need out of our back line.”
Weaver exemplified not only her ability to guide her teammates, but also produce on the field in a most tangible way in the team’s first win of the year, a 1-0 shutout over Metropolitan Community College-Maple Woods on Sept. 4. Weaver turned away all 10 shots before the Archers netted the game-winner in overtime.
For Weaver, being assigned the co-captain label is simply the culmination of a team-first approach she has always attempted to aid at previous athletics endeavors. The long layoff between years on the soccer field has done nothing to curtail her influence among her teammates, which has certainly come in handy with a team so reliant on young talent.
Given the youthful roster, the team’s occasional struggles in the early going is nothing to be alarmed about, but has only amplified the need for positivity, according to Weaver.
“I like being a leader,” Weaver said. “I like being positive and telling the girls to keep their heads up. I talk a lot. The thing we have to focus on is to be positive, and a lot of us haven’t played at this level. You’re going to lose now and then, but I think it’s very important to be positive about the things we do right, and that’s what I want to do here.”