Tucson is becoming a high school soccer hotbed

Tucson is becoming a high school soccer hotbed


Tucson is becoming a high school soccer hotbed


Charlie Kendrick and Wolfgang Weber both coach high school soccer in Tucson. Other than that, they would seem to have little in common.

Weber is a German immigrant who still speaks with a German accent, despite the fact he has been in the U.S. since 1973 and coaching at Tucson Salpointe Catholic since 1982. He rarely gets off the bench during games; he trusts his players to play the game the right way and make whatever adjustments are needed.

Kendrick is a University of Arizona graduate who became the girls’ coach at Catalina Foothills in 2003. He wears earrings and rarely sits down during games; he’s constantly shouting instructions or giving his players a thumbs-up.

The two men do share two important qualities: They’re part of the Tucson Soccer Academy — Weber co-founded the club program and Kendrick is a staff coach — and they win state titles.

Lots of state titles.

Saturday, Kendrick’s Catalina Foothills team won its fourth consecutive state championship with a 3-0 victory over Glendale Apollo at Gilbert Campo Verde in the girls Division II championship. About two hours later, Weber’s Salpointe club captured its second consecutive boys Division II title with a 2-0 win over Apollo.

It’s no coincidence that the programs’ dominance is directly tied to the fact the majority of their players are part of the Tucson Soccer Academy. They are teammates year-round; figuring out how to play together is second nature by the time the high school season begins. That allows Weber and Kendrick more time to teach tactics and technique.

“If you can get players in the off-season who continue on with the club that pays big dividends,” Weber said.

Catalina Foothills’ dominance is almost unheard of among public schools. Kendrick has guided the Falcons to seven state titles since 2005. The combined score of those seven championships: 21-1.

“It says a lot about the quality of kids we’ve got at the school,” Kendrick said.

So does this: Catalina Foothills has just six seniors on its roster, yet it simply overwhelmed Apollo. Two of its three goals were scored by sophomore forward Emily Parker.

And even though the state championship was assured long before the final few seconds — Kendrick subbed out virtually his entire starting lineup with about 15 minutes left — several of the players whipped out cameras to record the postgame celebration.

How often, after all, does a senior class leave school having won four consecutive state titles?

“It’s really special,” said keeper Laura DeMers, who will play at the University of New Mexico next season. “When I came off the field I was in tears and I was in awe because this was something not a lot of people have the opportunity to do.

“We had a lot of senior meetings because we knew how important it was and we wanted it so bad. I can’t even explain how badly we wanted it.”

Salpointe hasn’t been quite as dominant recently as Catalina Foothills — who has? — but its success dates back nearly 30 years. Weber won his first state title in 1985 and added championships in 1986, 1996, 2004 and, of course, the past two years.

With six titles, Weber is now tied with late Glendale Cactus coach Jack Altersitz for the most boys’ soccer crowns in state history.

“It hasn’t even sunk in,” Weber said. “It’s been a long time. It took decades to do this. But it never gets old.”

Weber said this year’s team is one of the better ones he’s coached at Salpointe, and the numbers back him up. In four playoff games, Salpointe outscored its foes 20-1.

At some point the 65-year-old Weber will retire and let a younger person spend cold winter nights on a soccer field. But that may be a few years. He’s having too much fun to give his birth certificate any consideration.

“I’m still feeling good and I still enjoy the kids, so I’d like to keep going,” he said.

Why not? These days, he and Kendrick can’t lose.

Reach Bordow at scott.bordow@arizonarepublic.com or 602-444-7996. Follow him on Twitter at Twitter.com/sBordow.


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