The World According to Weimer: Hats Off to a Teammate

Breakers logoBOSTON — Being in women’s soccer, like right in the thick of it, I see so many stories. And the cool thing about the stories is that they grow to be bigger and better every day as we go further into the season and get to know the people around us better.

Most articles that come out about us or about our teammates are by writers who see us play on the weekends, interview us once, interview our coaches and figure out the best angle to go with. The truth is, there are too many angles and not enough time to put them into words.

I get caught watching and thinking in moments where I should be laughing and listening … and on some rainy days like today, it all comes out from the tips of my fingers.

I’ve had a privilege this year. I’ve had the privilege of playing with a player that I had played with before. And before that, she was a player who I always wanted to be a teammate. I remember watching her play in 2014 for the Western New York Flash in a game that they won, 5-0, against the Portland Thorns and thinking, whoa, I love how she plays.

The next year we were on the same team with the Washington Spirit and we were friends right away. She laughs at my jokes and loves give and goes. What the hell else can you ask for from a person?

“Ang is someone that since Day 1, I’ve always been able to count on,” said Washington defender Estelle Johnson. “She’s the one you go to when you want to hear the brutal truth and when you need an ally. She’s passionate about everything that she does and you can’t help but admire her.”

This year we got to be roommates while playing for the Boston Breakers and that’s when I really got to know Angela Salem. She is about to play in her 100th game in the league when we play at Portland on Sunday.

Everyone knows what she’s like on the field. She’s one of the hardest-working players in the league and one of the hardest-working players I’ve ever played with. She does her job, your job and that other person’s job, too. She plays a brand of soccer that is easy on the eyes. Short, simple passes. Perfectly timed tackles. Getting out of pressure as if she had on an invisible cloak at times. It’s beautiful to watch.

What makes all that so special is that the past two seasons haven’t been ideal for the Breakers, yet Angela is always rock solid. She is consistently good.

Off the field, the story changes for a little. She’s one of the sweetest people you’ll meet. She makes your stories seem like they’re the most interesting thing in the world. (I mean I know mine are, but other people, too.) She’s listening and engaging and genuinely cares. Some days if she knows I need it, she’ll bring home a Coke or a cake pop and leave it in the fridge. After a game, if I haven’t played she will seek me out, drenched in sweat, hardly able to walk after doing all the jobs and put her arm around me to make sure I’m OK.

She’s a great friend. And you can ask people around the league and they will say exactly the same.

“She not only is an amazing player but she is also an amazing teammate,” said best friend and former teammate Katherine Reynolds who now plays for the Portland Thorns. “She is someone everyone always wants to be around because she is always laughing and has a positive attitude. I don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t had Angela as my teammate/roommate for all those years.”

The thing about Angela that strikes me the most is how hard working she is no matter what she does. I think that the on-field persona and the off-field persona are the same in that way. During the season, she coaches quite often. And I know a lot of players who coach to make money, which is standard, but Angela truly wants to have an impact on people’s lives. I watch her plan sessions for youngsters as if she’s planning her own session. We talk about the details of development all the time and I remember one time she showed me video of one of the players she trained while trying to analyze his shooting technique. Yes, I said his.

When she wasn’t playing or coaching individuals, she was applying to grad school, which she was accepted to and currently is enrolled in the Athletic Counseling program as well as the GA at Springfield College. So, yes, Angela Salem is playing professional soccer, going to grad school and assistant coaching a college team at the same time. She wants to be an athletic counselor. She wants to help people.  

And I watch her every single day do all the things she’s supposed to, never cutting a corner, never trying to get out of something, never doing less than she’s supposed to. In fact, she probably overcompensates and does more so people never think she’s giving an ounce less with all she has on her plate.

She is someone who has helped to make the National Women’s Soccer League what it is. What it really is. A place that is attainable with the right attitude.

Because guess what? She didn’t go to a big school. She went to Francis Marion University. She wasn’t drafted. She worked her way up — overseas and back. She is a true example of it not making a difference how you start or where you start. She will be the reason that a youngster thinks they can play professional soccer no matter where they are right now in their lives. That is what the NWSL is about.

The thing about Ang is that I hope she stays my friend. I need my children to meet her and for her to make them tough as nails. She’s one of those people you don’t want to lose in your life because she makes it better. She makes the people around her better. She has made me better. Even though I haven’t been in too many bone crunching tackles, I feel like I can always do more because Ang can do more. And I think that could be something we all take from her.