A new day for Belen Eagle boys soccer

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It has been an eventful six months for Brian Weems.

Coming off of taking Belen soccer to their second straight state championship matches, Weems got married, went on his honeymoon and accepted a job at Sandia High School as their head soccer coach.

In many ways, Weems has spent the summer as a man of two countries. While the Matadors have the undivided attention of his brilliant soccer mind, his heart is still just a bit maroon.

A photo ran just a few issues ago, in the News-Bulletin, of Belen’s best soccer prospect, Ricardo Perez-Contreras, signing a college letter of intent. Ricardo’s mom and dad were there, but it would not have been complete without his high school mentor and coach right there sending him off to the soccer fields of higher education.

It pained me to have to run that photo with the inevitable words “former Eagles’ coach Brain Weems.”

Weems coached Belen for five years, coincidently spanning the time of eligibility for Perez-Contreras. Weems brought respectability to the Belen soccer program that went beyond the wins on the field.

Weems not only developed talent, but he instilled a sense of purpose with these high school athletes.

Belen athletic coordinator Rodney Wright said that Belen soccer players were some of the best conditioned athletes he had ever seen. He noted that even against the best teams in the state, he felt that Belen was better conditioned and showed more energy than any of their competitors.

It points to some reasons why Weems will be hard to replace in this quickly-approaching soccer season.

Weems used his upbeat personality to communicate with his players the need to reach deep inside themselves to work in July to reach a goal in November.

The players gave that effort to condition in the off-season in order to have a shot at a state soccer title. They worked, and they achieved. Behind that effort was the encouragement and support of a coach that actually believed in his players.

That belief extended beyond the field and into all levels of life. Belen soccer players responded to the goals, matches and life issues ahead of them not because they were required to, but because they saw that they could reach those incredible achievements.

Weems gave them that vision. In these days of thinking that athletes are self-centered and have forgotten about the team, the Eagles always said that every win and every accomplishment was because of the team.

Even in this column, we have heard about those things that negatively impact sports, and, to some degree, life itself.

Yet with Belen soccer, none of those negative items were ever visible.

Wright now has the unenviable job of making the next hire of a Belen soccer coach. And he knows that decision needs to come quickly. August is very close on the calendar, and the important conditioning and teaching time really is now to prepare for the upcoming soccer season.

One thing is fortunate for the new coach, whoever that may be. The returning kids who have been encouraged by Weems are waiting to play soccer. The attitude and ethics remain for the new mentor.

And while Weems will be missed, everything in the world goes on. The former coach surely instilled that in his players. The new coach will have the opportunity to encourage them further.

And in the reporting world, we will miss a guy who was never at a loss for a quote and always presented the best part of athletics to the fans. We hope his successor will bring more of the same.

Congratulations, Matadors. You have a real treat in store with coach Weems. Congrats to you, too, Brian. May you experience the joy in your new commitments, both to school and Rebekah Castillo Weems, whom you married on March 10.

I can’t wait for soccer season. I am ready to meet the new Eagle mentor. I can’t wait to see the kids respond to the next great Eagle coach.

Because I believe that there is good in the sporting world. I guess Weems’ enthusiasm rubbed off on me a little bit.


-- Email the author at mstearns@news-bulletin.com.