We sit down with Lewis Sweeney, a senior goalkeeper on the San Jose State University men’s soccer team, for the first edition of 20 Questions for the 2008-09 academic year.
Sweeney, a native of San Leandro, Calif., out of Arroyo High School and Chabot College, led the Spartans in virtually all goalkeeping statistical categories in his first year in a San Jose State uniform in 2007, and was voted Top Newcomer by teammates. In 10 appearances, all starts, he produced three shutouts and a 1.38 goals-against-average. His average of 5.00 saves per game ranked second in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation and 24th in the entire NCAA Division I, as he finished with 50 stops.
A justice studies major, Sweeney expects to graduate next May. He and five senior teammates lead San Jose State into its exhibition opener this Friday night, August 22, against UC Santa Cruz. Kick-off is set for 5:00 p.m. inside Spartan Stadium. Admission is $5.00 for adults, $3.00 for kids aged 12 and under, $1.00 for kids in soccer jerseys, and free, as always, for students with valid Tower ID cards. The San Jose State women’s team will contest its 2008 season opener immediately afterward against 22nd-ranked South Bay rival Santa Clara University as part of a Spartan Soccer doubleheader.
The Spartan men begin the new campaign for real exactly one week later, at Spartan Field against Notre Dame de Namur University at 3:00 p.m.
1. Who are some of your favorite musical artists?
I enjoy all different styles of music, but some of my favorites are Kanye West, Bob
Marley, Tiesto and Lil Wayne.
2. Any favorite movies? Do you have a favorite soccer movie?
I like anything with substance, or comedies. Some of them are Wedding Crashers, City of God, Blood Diamond and Apocalypto. There haven’t been too many soccer movies that I have seen, but I would have to say Goal!.
3. Do you have any favorite television shows?
“Entourage” is by far the best television show. It’s the Hollywood Dream. Who wouldn’t want to be a young, successful actor in Hollywood?
4. We know from a recent entry in Ed Brand’s blog that you root for Manchester United in England. How did you become a fan of United? Any other professional soccer teams you support? How about any players you admire?
I have been a Manchester United fan since I first started watching soccer when I was about 12. I just admired the way they played and the passion their fans had for the game. The English fans love the game so much. It just made me want to be a part of it. I also admired Barcelona and the way they were playing last year up until Lionel Messi was injured. I love watching Iker Casillas (Spain and Real Madrid) play in goal. The high-flying saves and great skill he has are really amazing to watch. As far as field players go, I think Messi (Argentina and Barcelona) and Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal and Manchester United) are the two best in the world right now. However, I always love watching Rio Ferdinand (England and Manchester United) defend off strikers.
5. Do you have any pre-game rituals or superstitions?
I usually just mentally prepare for games and listen to music. There are no serious superstitions that I have, though.
6. If you weren’t a soccer player, what other sport would you play?
After watching the Olympics, I think I would play water polo. Those guys work so hard in the water and are in such good shape. I gained a great deal of respect for anybody who plays water polo.
7. Favorite place in San Jose?
My favorite place in San Jose would have to be Spartan Stadium, mainly because that is where I have felt the most joy since I have come to San Jose State from junior college.
8. Favorite pre-game meal? Favorite restaurant?
I generally don’t have a preference for a pre-game meal. However, Sonoma Chicken Coop is always a solid (restaurant) choice.
9. What has been the highlight of your sports career so far?
The highlight of my sports career was probably last year when my teammates voted me Top Newcomer. The award could have gone to two other guys, but just knowing I had the respect of my teammates gave me a lot of confidence going into this year.
10. What has been your favorite class at San Jose State?
JS 112 with Mary Juno. The class was Criminalistics, where we learned how to take
fingerprints and collect blood samples. She always had us doing fun CSI-type (Crime Scene Investigation) activities that made the class really enjoyable.
11. What is your favorite thing about the goalkeeper position?
The pressure. Certain people crumble, and others rise. Being a goalkeeper is all about pressure and being able to handle pressure, like when your team goes into a penalty kick shootout and they are counting on you to make a save. There is no better feeling than when you succeed in doing so.
12. How do you believe being an athlete makes you a better person?
Being an athlete has made me a much better person in my life. It’s taught me how to be a team player and work with others for a common goal. Also, playing soccer has allowed me to meet so many different people from different cultures. It’s made me a much more diverse and educated human being.
13. What is one school that you wish you could have played against in your career?
I wish we would play against UNC, because I always remember them having such a strong men’s program growing up.
14. What are some of your favorite foods?
I love Mexican and Italian food. Lasagna and garlic bread is the best thing ever made.
15. What would be your dream vacation spot?
India for a month, so I can go to the Taj Mahal, travel to Northern India to see where Gandhi stood against the British, then hike in the Himalayas and travel to the Golden Temple, ride an elephant and then go to West India to Goa, with some of the best beaches in the world sitting on the Indian Ocean. That would be the best vacation.
16. Who has been the most influential person in your life?
The most influential person in my life would have to be my father. He has always guided me and helped me make decisions in my life. I have learned how to mature and be a man through him. He’s never missed my games and always has been there to support me.
17. What are some things you like to do when you are away from the soccer field?
I love to travel. I feel like it’s the most important thing you can do in your life, to learn and experience different cultures. I also like to hang out with friends and relax.
18. How’s training camp going through one full week?
It’s been alright. We have been running a lot this year and concentrating a lot on fitness, but now with our games coming up so fast, we are starting to actually play, which is a nice change.
19. New Mexico enters the 2008 season as the four-time defending Mountain Pacific Sports Federation champion. What do you and your teammates need to do in order to end that streak?
We just need to play solid defense and take the game to them. A lot of times in
college, players play the jerseys, not the man. But when you think about it, everyone is a Division I player, so we just have to go at them.
20. What are your goals, both individually and as a team, for the 2008 season?
I personally just want to have a good season and get as many shutouts as possible. As a team, our goal is to win the MPSF and qualify for the NCAA Championship.
21. Although all of your teammates certainly trained and trained hard this past summer, not all of them played competitive soccer. You did, however, training with the San Francisco Seals in the City and playing two full matches with them while also starting regularly for their U21 side. How ready are you for this season?
Playing for the Seals was the best thing I ever did. I thank Junior (Burgos) for that, because he really pushed me to play this summer. It gave me a chance to play with many skillful players from other universities and gain a lot of experience playing at a high level. I feel more prepared for this season than I have ever felt in any of my other college seasons.
22. Favorite place you have visited?
I loved Paris, France. Paris, in my opinion, is one of the best cities in the world. The atmosphere and architecture are just amazing. I also really enjoyed Cancun (Mexico) last year during Spring Break. (Former Spartan) Julio (Gonzalez) and I went and stayed at a hotel on the beach. The atmosphere and tours we took were unbelievable.
23. What do you hope to get out of this Friday night’s exhibition match with UC Santa Cruz?
I hope just to get back in sync with my defenders and start working toward that game communication I need to have with them.
24. We witnessed some skilled ball-juggling and deft tricks during a break in the action at training the other day. Ever think about ditching the goalie gloves and playing in the field?
No chance. The juggling tricks are just for fun. Although I feel like I have good ball skills, I still lack a lot of the instincts and know-how that many good field players have. However, I would invite the chance to play striker just for fun.
This week’s 20 Questions was brought to you by The Grill On The Alley.
Past 2008-09 20 Questions
June 13 - Jeff Leightman, Women's Soccer
August 20 - Lewis Sweeney, Men's Soccer