New Kittanning coach hopes to field winner in school's final season
The Kittanning boys soccer program technically is entering its final season, but Kirk Weber hopes to build it up.
Weber, an assistant under previous coach Colby Owen, was approved by the Armstrong School Board this spring as Kittanning's new coach and hopes to get things moving in a positive direction entering the Armstrong High School era.
Last season was a difficult one for the Wildcats, who were winless and scored just nine goals in 17 games. That team was almost entirely made up of underclassmen, however, and Weber hopes the group can take a step forward in his first year.
“It's the final year for Kittanning soccer, so hopefully we can make history and at least get out of that position in the basement (of the section) that's been ours,” Weber said. “The kids have worked very hard this offseason, and we have a tremendous group of freshmen coming in with the juniors and seniors who are coming back.”
Weber said he first became interested in soccer when his son, Patrick, began to play more than 15 years ago. Since then, Weber has attained his coaching license, and after being involved as an assistant at Kittanning, he now moves into the lead role.
“I made a point to be at as many of his practices and games as I could. It was one of those deals where once you watch long enough, you want to get involved and help,” Weber said. “When Colby Owen asked me to come on as an assistant, I was happy to, and it was through that time I got my licenses.”
One of the biggest things that Weber has tried to push is the need for Kittanning's players to stay sharp year round.
Weber has helped his players become involved in a futsal league in Monroeville, as well as playing and practicing indoors at the PISA facility in Harmar. In spring, he encourages his players to play in the Freeport travel league. They still come together for weekly workouts in the summer.
“I try to work with as many of the kids as I can all year round. To be a star athlete these days, you have to work at it year round,” Weber said. “It's good to see the kids pay more attention to it.”
Another important thing to Weber in the program's progression is that they develop a team that can compete as a unit. Keeping up the number of players is a part of that, but another part is developing a style of play that gets everyone involved and can win consistently.
“Most teams at the high school level play almost a fast-break style, where they boot the ball over the top and let a couple good athletes run on to it,” Weber said.
“What we're working with is trying to build a more possession-style game with crisp 10- and 15-yard passes. That will help us win more in the middle of the field and give us time to bring more numbers in the attack. Even though they lost that first game to Brazil, we want to play a lot like how Croatia is in the World Cup.”
Most of all, Weber said he wants Kittanning's — and, later, Armstrong's — players to get the program on a winning track.
“Usually, Kittanning soccer has had one or two standout players, and the rest of the team turns to them as the ones who have to do it,” Weber said. “I think it will be a real plus for us to have 11 kids that all play well out there.”