Keene State soccer alums honored in their community
KEENE, N.H. 4/16/12 – Keene State College alums Hal
Shortsleeve ’73 and Klaus Weber
’75 couldn’t have come from more diverse
backgrounds. Weber is originally from Olten, Switzerland, while
Shortsleeve grew up in the small town of Proctor, Vermont.
Despite their different upbringings, Shortsleeve and Weber had a mutual love for sports and the game of soccer, which ultimately brought them together at Keene State. But their connection didn’t stop there. Moving on to their professional lives, the two continued to share a common bond as valued educators, coaches, and mentors, who were honored for their years of service in their respective communities of Windham, Maine, and Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Stepping down last June after 34 years, first as a guidance counselor and later as the long-serving principal at Windham (Me.) Middle School, the school honored Shortsleeve by naming the school’s library, as well as a student award, after him.
After a highly successful career as a cross-country ski and soccer coach at the University of New Mexico, Weber came to Bosque School in Albuquerque in 2002. His work and dedication to the school’s athletic department and soccer program was recognized with the dedication of the Klaus Weber Field on September 29, 2007.
Speaking about his former players, Keene State Coach Ron Butcher said, “I can speak about their athletic achievements, but I’d rather talk about their accomplishments off the field after they graduated.” And there’s a lot to talk about.
Coming to New York in 1964, Weber, then 22, initially worked in the hospitality industry before changing course and enrolling at Ulster (N.Y.) Community College. Maintaining his skills playing in the semiprofessional German-American League in New York, Weber joined the UCC soccer team and Butcher later recruited him to KSC. “Klaus was the first married player I ever had,” said Butcher. “He was a little older, so he led by example.”
Shortsleeve also went the junior college route, playing two years at Champlain (Vt.) College before coming to Keene State. “I was very impressed with Coach Butcher, and Keene State was a good match for me,” said Shortsleeve, a two-year junior college All-American.
Shortsleeve’s wife Terry, who earned her degree from KSC in 1973, also played a small role bringing her future husband to campus. One of Terry’s many work-study tasks included typing recruiting letters for Coach Butcher — including the one that went to Hal Shortsleeve. “I was sitting in a class one day and heard his name called,” said Terry. “I turned around to see who that person was.” The two hooked up their senior year and got married that summer.
Teaming up with a talented group of teammates that included Mickey Rooney, Brad Steurer, and Graham Jones, Weber and Shortsleeve helped put the Owls on the college soccer map. Webber was a lean and skilled forward who had an uncanny ability to score goals with his head while Shortsleeve utilized his speed to be an unrelenting force at midfield. “They were both hard-working players,” said former teammate and current KSC associate coach Rick Scott. “You couldn’t ask for better teammates on and off the field.”
Weber and Shortsleeve were members of Keene State team that went to the NAIA national tournament in 1972. The pair speaks highly about their former coach. “Coach Butcher committed an amazing amount of time to the team,” said Weber, who also participated on Owl skiing and tennis teams. “He was very insightful. He was always there for the guys.”
“I didn’t have any direction when I came to Keene State and Coach Butcher provided me with a path to follow,” said Shortsleeve. “I owe him a great deal.”
Weber, who earned his degree in foreign language and health and physical education, and Shortsleeve, a psychology major, might have headed in different directions after graduating, but dedicated their careers to helping students achieve their potential, whether it was in the classroom or out in the field.
After serving as a student teacher in Bellows Falls, Vt., Weber headed to the southwest, establishing two successful varsity programs as coach of the cross-country skiing and, later, the men’s soccer team at the University of New Mexico. Klaus led the Lobos to a third-place finish in skiing and to unprecedented soccer success, including a major upset win over UCLA in 1992. Klaus completed his 27-year career in style, leading his 2002 team to a conference championship and a second-round berth in the NCAA tournament.
Coach Butcher and his Owl soccer team paid a visit to Albuquerque and Weber in 1993, losing to the Lobos 4–0. “It was nice to see both of us at the same level,” said Weber. “The relationship went from player-coach to coach-coach.”
The move to Bosque School, an independent 6–12 grade school that opened in 1995, came at the right time for Weber, who has served in multiple capacities including athletic director, teacher, and coach at the school.
Still coaching soccer and tennis at Bosque, Weber has become an icon in the Albuquerque community. He continues to remain active, competing in bike, running, and cross-country ski events. Weber – whose wife, Sandra Robinson St. George, also earned her degree from KSC in 1975 – was named to the NM Ski Hall of Fame last year.
Sitting at his office, Weber, who will be 69 in a few months, proudly looks out at the field that bears his name. “It’s hard to digest, but it’s something that’s going to be there for a long, long, time,” he said. “I’ve been very fortunate. I wouldn’t give back any day I’ve had in my life.”
After graduating, Shortsleeve stayed on at KSC, serving as an assistant with Butcher and running the freshman program. He would spend a couple of seasons as an assistant soccer coach at Southern Maine, where he received his master’s degree in administration, before embarking on a long and rewarding career at the Windham Middle School.
Shortsleeve’s accomplishments at WMS were numerous. In 1993, he helped the school transition for grades 7–9 to 6–8 and implemented a curriculum that became more student-centered rather than subject-centered. “It involved a philosophical change for teachers and parents,” said Shortsleeve. “Everything we did was based on standards, including the elimination of numerical and letter grades. It was a huge challenge.”
Recalling his unlikely path that landed him in the principal’s chair, Shortsleeve said, “The last position my high school teachers thought I would be is a principal.”
Despite a busy schedule, Shortsleeve continued to play soccer in an adult league and kept his hand in the game by founding and coordinating the Windham youth soccer and Windham junior-high programs for several years. Arriving at the decision to retire was very difficult for Shortsleeve. “I really struggled with it, because I enjoyed it tremendously,” he said.
Like her husband, Terry Shortsleeve also had a satisfying career in education that spanned 35 years and included stops in Waterboro, Portland, and Windham. Originally from Westwood, Mass., Terry, who had a double major in special education, fondly remembers her days at Keene State, including a summer trip put together by then professor Clyde Sheppard. Terry and a dozen other students set up a summer camp in the Appalachian Mountains were they worked with disadvantaged children.
“Keene State prepared me and gave me the confidence and knowledge to enter a career that served me well,” said Terry. “The real-life experience working with students made a big difference.”
The 61-year-old Hal Shortsleeve says it’s been difficult adapting to retirement, but he and Terry keep busy taking care of their 12 acre 1820 farmhouse in Standish as well as traveling. His memories will be as many as the students he touched during his tenure. “I feel lucky that I had a chance to be a part of their lives at a key stage in their lives,” he said.
Butcher makes a point of keeping in contact with his soccer alums. Sharing stories about former players like Weber and Shortsleeve, especially with his younger alums, Butcher is able to connect the past with the present. “It might seem a long time ago for the younger guys, but this is what Keene State athletics and soccer are all about,” he said. “Remember the past, because it brought you to where you are today. Sometimes we forget about that.”