Underdog of the Week: Jay Weinman
Jay Weinman is SoccerViza's Underdog of the Week; the Arizona native plays year-round between indoor and outdoor soccer as he tries to achieve his dream of playing professional soccer. Now a member of the SoccerViza Family, Jay is hoping that this year holds the key to his future.

By: Christopher McCollum

When Jay Weinman struck out onto his path to pursue the dream of playing professional soccer, he didn’t realize the unique journey it would take him on. Few players do, as the road to success is so littered with traps and pitfalls, unpredictable deviations and waypoints.

The 23-year old Arizona native began playing as a child, growing up with his team from the Tucson area. They played together, went to school together, lived near each other, and had a family bond that most youth clubs around the country found difficult to keep during the inevitability or families moving away, players switching clubs, or simply dropping out to pursue other interests.

It stayed that way for nearly a decade though as Jay developed alongside his team up to high school. It came to a tipping point though when he was entering his freshman year and realized that he might have what it takes to pursue the dream he’d had since watching the 2002 World Cup: the dream of playing under the bright lights of the mega-stadiums of the world, of seeing flashbulbs pop off during every play, and replays across jumbo-trons floating above the upper decks. It’s a dream shared by millions of young players around the world, but few get to experience.

When Jay realized that he could potentially play professionally, it came down to a tough decision: Stay with his childhood club, or move to a new challenge and try to push himself beyond his own limits. Jay is a loyal individual, a caring person off the field who took it as a personal affront to his own nature to even consider leaving his soccer family behind, but it was a sacrifice that needed to be made if he wanted the opportunity to play at another level. Eventually his ambition won out, and his passion for the game, which continues to grow, led him to new things.

As he progressed with his new club, he went on to realize that he needed to get as much playing experience as he could, and the outdoor game simply didn’t offer enough minutes to expose himself to potential scouts and new opportunities. This took him to indoor soccer, where his first team was the Tacoma Stars in the MASL, but also participated as part of the WISL. The team was a late replacement for the defunct Seattle Impact, and a spur of the moment decision became a quality first season experiencing professional competition.

For Jay, it was an adjustment, going from the outdoor game of seemingly limitless space, to the indoor game where a loose first touch as a recipe for disaster.

“Indoor is so fast, so frenetic. It’s quicker and there’s more actiong going on than outdoor. Outdoor, there’s more space, more options. To me, the pitch is just bigger. Indoor, everything is quick and agile, you have 30-seconds on and off the pitch. It’s tiny runs, tiny movements. Your touch has to be spot on; if it’s not, you’re getting crushed.”

Jay began a cycle of going back and forth between indoor and outdoor seasons, doing spring, summer and fall under the open sky, and winter under the ceiling lights. The adjustment from one concept of play to the next always came as a challenge. Playing in the PASL, WISL, MASL, and this summer he will be playing in the Professional Futsal League, the newest indoor league to take hold in the United States, there are different rules to adjust to, different shapes and dimensions of fields, and different muscle groups to focus on in training. And then there’s the psychological differences.

“Outdoor… it’s my passion. When I change to outdoor, I get a whole different feeling than when I play indoors. There’s a whole different aspect of the game. When I play outdoor, I feel free. When I’m indoor though, it almost feels like I’m trapped inside of a little box. I love it, but the open air makes things so much different.”

When it comes to the motivation to keep going on year in and year out, swapping out venues, training regimens, residences, and everything else required in focusing on the indoor game while striving to find an opportunity in the outdoor game, it’s a fairly simple answer; it goes back to Jay’s personality and his character off the pitch, the consummate family-first, loyalty-driven young man who realizes what they have done for him in his life.

“What they’ve done for me in my life, whether it be for sports, for school, or just being there day in, day out for everything that has gone on, I can’t thank them enough. My motivation doesn’t leave, it doesn’t die down no matter what I do. I have so many friends and family that let me know every day… it pushes me. But there’s outside motivators as well, watching skill videos on Youtube, watching highlights, watching great plays… they inspire me to improve my game and to be my best. Everything motivates me, it’s limitless. If I see a goal that’s scored, I imagine that one day it’s going to be me. There’s nothing that pulls me away from this game.”

Having the support network that he does, Jay’s confidence is brimming as he starts to enter his physical prime. It’s not a question of if, but when he signs his first full time professional contract.

“I know I’m going to go pro. I can feel it. I believe in myself and what I can do. I would love to end up in Europe somewhere. I mean, who doesn’t want to play for Real Madrid? It’d be a dream come true, but anywhere in the professional game would be a dream come true. Whether it’s MLS, a European second division, or anything in between, it would be nothing short of amazing.”

You can follow along with Jay’s progress in his pursuit of the professional dream by tracking updates on SoccerViza’s social media accounts.