By Justin Lafleur, Lehigh Sports Media Relations
For Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 1/13/16
A chance… that’s all Reid Weber wanted. Lehigh head coach Kevin Cassese gave the Germantown Academy grad opportunity and he’s developed into a leader of a nationally-renowned program.
It wouldn’t have been possible without hard work.
“Coach Cassese was able to see potential in me, even though I was undersized at the time,” said Weber. “He took a chance on me, and I’m forever grateful.”
Weber always had his eyes set on wearing Lehigh’s Brown and White.
“A lot of kids always had that school they dreamed of going to,” he said. “For whatever reason, it was always Lehigh for me. I came up for the King of the Mountain Tournament in seventh grade and I told my dad, this is where I want to go.
“Then, as fate would have it, Lehigh was the first and only school to recruit me. It was meant to be.”
Weber and Lehigh men’s lacrosse have been a perfect match. The Mountain Hawks have risen in prominence during Cassese’s tenure, primarily because of hard work, which Weber embodies.
“Reid has been the underdog for his entire career,” said Cassese of the 2012 All-Phillylacrosse.com First Team pick. “He’s accomplished a great deal as a lacrosse player, but has never really been recognized for it by the lacrosse community. He’s naturally a hard worker and a motivated young man, but I do believe the constant lack of recognition has served as additional motivation for him to outwork his competition, maximize his athletic potential and refine his lacrosse ability.
“Reid approaches everything he does like he has something to prove… like he has a chip on his shoulder,” Cassese continued. “This has earned the admiration and respect of his teammates and coaches, and it’s allowed him to develop into a high level leader for our program.”
From the time he began playing lacrosse, through his Lehigh days, Weber had to work. Nothing has been given to him.
“I was a really late bloomer,” he said. “I didn’t enjoy much success until my junior year of high school. I always had pretty good stick skills, but I was 5-foot-6, 130 pounds during my sophomore year of high school, which is when my teammates started getting looks from colleges.”
The Weber family has featured late bloomers, so Reid’s father Fred continually encouraged him to hang in there and work hard because good things would happen.
“My dad was adamant about sticking with lacrosse because he knew I would grow… and he was right,” said Reid. “I ended up growing around six inches and putting on 50 pounds in high school. At my small size, I learned how to use my body. My greatest weakness has now become one of my greatest strengths (currently 6-foot-1, 200 pounds).”
Weber has grown in other ways at Lehigh. He had quite the introduction to college lacrosse in 2013 as a freshman on the Mountain Hawks’ second straight Patriot League Championship team. Even though he only played six games, the year was a springboard for success.
“It was incredible to be on that team and watch how they operated,” said Weber. “That senior class was one of the most memorable classes in school history. The attitude and swagger they brought every day was really admirable; it’s something I’m trying to replicate with our guys this year.”
The 2013 season gave Weber plenty of motivation to improve.
“Watching all those guys and spending a year on the bench was extremely valuable,” he said. “It made me realize what it would take to get on the field, and that I never wanted to be on the bench again. That season really pushed me to take my work over the summer to an even higher level, putting me in a position to earn a starting spot that fall.”
Weber’s focus was on one thing – working as hard as he could and always putting in 100 percent.
“Before every game, my dad would say ‘there’s only one thing you can control’ and that’s going as hard as you possibly can at all times,” said Reid. “I’m not even close to the most talented guy on the field, but I pride myself on putting my head down and just grinding when I’m out there. I remember having a conversation with Coach Cassese, who said by going as hard as I was, he wouldn’t have any choice but to play me.”
Play is exactly what Reid did in 2014, starting all 18 games as part of a dynamic trio at attack (Dan Taylor, Patrick Corbett and Weber) that combined for 157 points as one of the top units in the nation. Weber finished second on the team in points (44) behind 27 goals and 17 assists.
Weber’s relentlessness was consistently on display, but he needed to learn to control that aggressiveness.
“I went hard after every groundball and did everything I could to make the plays, but I needed to play within the system and be patient,” said Weber. “Freshman year, Mike Noone gave me the nickname the kamikaze because I would put my head down and try to run through the entire defense. There’s been a bit of maturation that’s happened from talking to coach.”
Weber needed to find a balance, and it’s led to even greater success.
“I’ve worked on playing slower,” he said. “One of my favorite quotes is Coach Wooden’s ‘be quick, but don’t hurry.’ That’s something Dan Taylor did really well. He went hard, but it looked effortless. It was so smooth, composed and purposeful.”
Fundamentally, Weber is improving his skills, which is making for a prolific all-around attackman.
“Every offseason, I try to pick one or two moves to add to my repertoire,” he said. “Last year, I wasn’t using an inside move, so I spent all summer working on one. It’s something I’m still working on, but now, it’s gotten to the point where it’s happening out of muscle memory.”
Weber ended last season on a tear, tallying 30 points over the last seven games.
“When we dropped a couple games we shouldn’t have earlier in the season, everyone kind of tensed up, but then it clicked,” said Weber. “I was determined to go out there and play with some swagger and play the way I play.”
Entering the 2015 season, Weber is “the guy” on offense as a veteran presence on a young team. Everyone worries about the loss of Taylor and his 77 points, but Weber is a returning 50-point scorer, tallying 51 last season behind 38 goals and 13 assists. Since become a starter, he has quietly trailed only Taylor and Army West Point’s John Glesener (both All-Americans) in Patriot League goals. Weber is excited to take on the challenge of leading the offense, and as Coach Cassese has said, put his own stamp on the program.
“My main goal is to bring back the swagger, the toughness and the hard work that we had in 2012 and 2013,” said Weber. “We lost a talented senior class in 2015, but we have a lot of talent on this team and a ton of motivation to play hard and play well.”
Weber has a big-picture focus and goes about his actions for the betterment of the entire program.
“Reid’s work ethic is contagious,” said sophomore John Mehok. “When underclassmen, myself included, see the energy and passion that he brings to the table every day, we feed off it and it makes us work that much harder as a team. Reid’s hard-working mentality sets the bar for what it takes be a Lehigh Lacrosse player. He has a tremendous impact on the underclassmen because he’s always reaching out to the younger guys, whether it’s for extra work or just bringing the team together.”
Weber’s hard-working mentality is on full display off the field, too. The graphic design major and business minor has enjoyed experiences in both fields.
“Whatever career path I choose, I’m going to do it with everything I’ve got,” he said. “Right now, I’m favoring working in the financial industry, although marketing is a serious interest of mine, too. I had a finance internship this past summer, which I really enjoyed.”
Weber’s internship was with Delaware Investments where he assisted both the investment grade and high yield fixed income desks.
“I was assigned an individual Bloomberg terminal for research and trade execution support. On a day-to-day basis, I put together and delivered pre-market reports and post-market summaries,” he said. “I also put together a sector overview of the Latin American food and beverage industry, which was over 50 pages long. It was an incredible experience. The energy of the finance industry is something that really excites me. It’s a high-paced and competitive environment, where I could see myself flourishing.”
All Weber is looking for is a chance, much like the chance Cassese gave him to play lacrosse at Lehigh. Since that offer, Weber has grown on and off the field, and looks to take skills he’s learned into life post-graduation.
“With how hard we work for our sport, everything I do outside of lacrosse seems so much easier,” he said. “We’re up before the sun several times per week during the fall. The strain that we put on our bodies mentally, and physically, is like nothing I ever experienced before. After doing it for four years, it becomes natural.”
The takeaways from Weber’s Lehigh experience are endless.
“I feel ready to take on anything,” he said. “I feel confident, no matter what I’m doing, that I’ll be able to put in the hard work and accomplish any task that’s put in front of me.”
That hard-working mentality is what Cassese wants in his program, and what Weber is helping re-instill. So far, so good.
“It doesn’t matter what it is, I have never been around someone who hates to lose as much as Reid,” said senior Billy Oppenheimer, who was also a high school teammate of Weber. “He wants to win so badly and he’s never satisfied, so he works extremely hard to be a great player. That mentality becomes infectious; younger guys see their senior captain staying after practice to get in extra work, and they’re motivated to do the same.”
“Reid has stepped into a leadership role that was left void with the graduation of Dan Taylor,” said Cassese. “He was an obvious selection for team captain. He is a great leader, not only because of the encouragement he provides to teammates, but also because he’s not afraid to hold his teammates accountable. He has earned the right to do so because he has consistently been one of the hardest workers on the team and consistently does the right thing, on and off the field.
“Reid has set a high example for what it means to be a Lehigh Lacrosse man, and he does this on a daily basis. Simply put, Reid is a flat-out winner.”
With a young, hard-working team and a strong core of leaders (captains Weber, Tripp Telesco and Casey Eidenshink), the Mountain Hawks hope to surprise some people this spring.
“This is the most improvement I’ve ever seen in a fall,” he said. I think we’re well on our way. The level of athleticism, strength and overall buy-in that we’re seeing is pretty extraordinary right now. I really like our direction and will do everything I can to keep it up.”