WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- Max Weber, a soccer team captain who balanced an injury-plagued career with a high-profile leadership role on campus, is one of two recipients of the 2008 R.V. Borleske Trophy, which is presented annually to the top male athlete at Whitman College.
The trophy, awarded by a vote of the Whitman coaching staff, recognizes athletic ability and accomplishments, leadership and sportsmanship qualities, and contributions to the campus as a whole.
Weber shares this year's Borleske Trophy with swimmer Clint Collier.
Weber, a midfielder, battled injuries over the past two seasons, playing in just 20 games, 13 as a starter. As a senior captain last fall, however, he helped lead Whitman to a winning season with a 10-9-1 record that included a handful of one-goal losses.
Weber was an obvious choice for the team's Most Inspirational Player award, according to coach Mike Washington. "Max has an ability to lead that is second to none," Washington says. "He has high expectations of his team, and he pushed himself and others to overachieve. He's been a huge part of our team success on and off the field."
Weber also served the past two years on Whitman's Student Athlete Advisory Committee, first as subcommittee head for one year and then as co-president during his senior year. "Max is just a born leader," Washington says. "He has served on other campus committees as well, in addition to working a couple of different jobs and maintaining a full academic load at Whitman."
Michelle Ferenz, adviser to the Student Athlete Advisory Committee, says Weber's work on behalf of that group has been exceptional. "Max always brings a lot of positive energy and organizational skill to the table," she says. "He's very mature and likable, and he brings out the best in his peers."
Ferenz, the women's basketball coach and senior women's advisor in the athletics department, describes Weber as "one of the best young leaders we have had come through our department. I'm sure he was frustrated last fall because he was hurt and not able to play as much as he wanted, but I never heard him complain. He was just thrilled that his team was having success. There's no question that some of that success was due to Max's leadership as a captain."
Before coming to Whitman, Weber was a captain and two-year starter on a Walla Walla Community College men's team that won two NWAAC East Region championships. Max, who overcame a torn ACL while at WWCC, was a two-time academic all-league player.
While offered better financial aid packages at other NWC schools, Weber says his respect for Washington is what prompted him to transfer to Whitman. "Coach Washington began recruiting me when I was a high school junior, and when I wasn't accepted at first at Whitman, he helped get me lined up at the community college," Weber says. "I wouldn't be where I am today without his commitment and effort."
One of his goals as a team captain at Whitman, Weber says, was to instill a greater commitment to winning among the players, and to build a stronger sense of loyalty to their coach. "Coach Washington does everything in his power to help his players and teams be successful," Weber says. "I feel comfortable leaving the program in the hands of players who bought into the importance of giving the utmost respect to their coach and working as hard as possible for him. Coach Washington deserves it."
Weber plans to pursue his own coaching career in the years ahead, starting this fall with the head assistant coaching position with the WWCC men's and women's teams.
Weber, a graduate of Great Falls (Mont.) High School, is the son of James Weber and Jane Schmoyer-Weber of Great Falls.
The Borleske Trophy honors Raymond V. Borleske, who achieved legendary status as an athlete and later as a coach at Whitman during the first half of the 20th century. He starred on Whitman's football and baseball teams, and he was the first football player from the Northwest to be recognized by Walter Camp's Spaulding Football Guide. After graduating from Whitman and earning a law degree, Borleske returned to campus in 1915 to begin a coaching career that continued until 1947.