As Mechanical Engineer, Georgetown's Wiese Rolls the Dice on Coaching
Brian Wiese could be building bridges instead of building winning soccer teams.
“Once I realized I wouldn’t want to drive over any bridge that I designed, I knew that coaching is where I should be,” Wiese said with a chuckle as he talked about his master’s of science degree in mechanical engineering from Stanford (he also has a bachelor of arts in the same field form Dartmouth College in New Hampshire).
The Georgetown Hoyas are glad he put down the stencil and straight edge. Earlier in January in Indianapolis, Wiese was named the 2013 NSCAA Men’s Division I Coach of the Year, after taking the Hoyas to the final of the College Cup in just his sixth season.
“Yes, I guess you could say I ‘bamboozled’ my wife,” Wiese continued with the laughter. “When we got married Becky thought I was going to be a full-time mechanical engineer, where the pay is good and the hours are manageable. Instead, I told her I wanted to take a job, which barely pays anything … it can be extremely volatile … and I will be gone most weekends.
“Thankfully, I have the best wife in the world and it was the perfect combination. I didn’t want to be a mediocre engineer and I had a great situation to work under one of the best mentors a coach could have, (former Stanford and current Notre Dame head coach) Bobby Clark.
“Bobby is the best teacher in the game and to have him as a mentor, there is so much luck in that, it’s almost comical. I took a big time roll of the dice. I wanted to do it, I needed to do it and I love what I do … I love coaching.”
Wiese, a goalkeeper, and his brother, Andrew, both played for Clark at Dartmouth College. Clark would hire Wiese at Stanford after his assistant coach, Geoff Wheeler, took the head coaching job at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn. Wiese would follow Clark to Notre Dame before Georgetown hired him as the top man in 2006.
“You are calling about the ‘Flying Bus’,” Clark said in his unmistakable Scottish accent. “That’s what I would call Brian. He is a big man and he would always wear this bright yellow and green jersey and fly around in the goal. He looked like the Glasgow Corporation bus and any time he would eat too many cheeseburgers, I would call him the ‘Flying Double Decker!’
“You could always have fun with Brian, because not only is he one of the best soccer coaches I have ever worked with, he has great humility. He comes from an amazing family and he is very, very funny. Not everybody knows that about Brian, but, truth is, as much as I miss his coaching, I really miss him at the banquets. People don’t realize that Brian Wiese used to do improv comedy and he was the highlight of our banquets.
“He really was,” Clark continued. “But he gets very serious about his soccer. And, it’s no surprise that he has achieved great success at Georgetown. He is deserving of the NSCAA award and he has a bright future in the game.”
The 2012 season was the brightest in Georgetown history. Wiese’s Hoyas concluded the year with a 19-4-3 overall record, the most wins recorded in a single season by the team. In addition to the College Cup final, a 1-0 loss to Indiana, Wiese led the Hoyas to the Big East Blue Division regular season championship, and a trip to the Big East Tournament championship game.
This from a team that was unranked to start the season.
“Good players make coaches look great,” said Wiese. “And, I will always defer to the players. The captains and senior leadership on this team was amazing. They ran the show. I didn’t have to push them. They were driven and focused from the start, including our trip to Barcelona in the spring.
“Then, when that first (NSCAA/Continental Tire) coaches’ poll came out in August and we weren’t receiving votes, they were mad. But we decided then and throughout the entire season to not look at the polls, but to simply play.”
That strong senior class would do more than simply play. They would help Wiese’s Hoyas through a difficult schedule with late-game victories. Included in these triumphs were wins over Marquette, Syracuse, and Maryland. Four of Wiese’s players were selected in the Major League Soccer drafts. Tommy Muller, Ian Christianson, and Jimmy Nealis were taken 15th, 22nd, and 37th, respectively, in the MLS SuperDraft last Thursday, and midfielder Andy Riemer was selected in the MLS Supplemental Draft as the sixth pick. Muller will head to the San Jose Earthquakes, Christianson to the New York Red Bulls, Nealis will ply his trade with the Houston Dynamo, and Riemer will join the Los Angeles Galaxy.
The MLS draft and the NSCAA awards ceremony were held in Indianapolis and Wiese said it was fitting that former NSCAA President Paul Payne was also there when he received his award.
“When Bobby hired me at Stanford, I remember him saying to me, ‘If you are stupid enough to give up engineering to become a coach, then you have to go back to school.’ And, he was talking about the NSCAA. I was lucky enough to work with Paul Payne for both of my NSCAA diplomas.
“I didn’t know who Paul was, but he was so positive, so encouraging … I mean I remember thinking this guy is great. He has so much insight on the game; he spends time with you on how to organize your thinking, your sessions, and your progress. He was able to cement what we were doing without even thinking about it. Paul and all of the NSCAA coaches really do provide a wonderful environment to learn and to grow.”
Finally, Wiese says that without the tireless dedication of longtime Georgetown coach (and color analyst for the NSCAA Game of the Week on Fox Soccer) Keith Tabatznik as well as the push from the Big East to prioritize men’s soccer, none of this success could be possible.
“When you have a guy as respected and knowledgeable as Keith Tabatznik, who is the longest tenured coach in the program history (22 years), how do you not take advantage of that,” Wiese said. “Keith loves this program, he loves the school and he has a great sense of ownership and pride in the brand. He spoke to the team before we went to the College Cup and he will always be a part of Georgetown soccer.
“Keith built this program on just a couple of scholarships. I came in just when the Big East made men’s soccer a priority with new initiatives and scholarships. We will always be grateful for the work of Keith Tabatznik and the support of the Big East.”
The rest of us are grateful Brian Wiese focused on building the sport of soccer … not bridges.