Friday Feature: Men's Soccer Senior Class

The San Jose State University men’s soccer program will bid a fond farewell to six key members this Saturday, November 15, on Senior Night inside Spartan Stadium. Kick-off against Mountain Pacific Sports Federation rival Sacramento State is slated for approximately 7:00 p.m., following a special ceremony recognizing Hiroki Akiyama, Ed Brand, Richard Mann, Sam Shore, Lewis Sweeney and Gavin Wenyon, for their supreme contributions to the program.

For this week’s Friday Feature, we let this group of six do the talking and tell us about their fondest memories donning the blue and gold, what they take away from their experience as a San Jose State University student-athlete, and what’s next. In addition to their numerous collective athletic and academic accolades, all six are scheduled to complete their undergraduate degree requirements by next May. Five of them intend on first pursuing professional soccer, while fifth-year Spartan and two-time team captain Rich Mann, a San Jose native, has his sights set on law school.

Hiroki Akiyama
Position: Midfielder
Hometown: Muroran, Japan
Major: Kinesiology
Expected Graduation Date: December, 2008

Spartan Memories
“Maybe the very first moment I stepped onto the (field at) Spartan Stadium, four years ago against Santa Clara (September 29, 2005). It was very impressive for me. It was the place that I was dreaming about for a year (after first arriving on campus). It was a very precious moment for me. Another moment was the bicycle kick (against Seattle at Spartan Stadium on September 21, 2008). That’s the best goal I have ever scored.”

The San Jose State Experience
“Maybe the professionalism, how we approach the game, be prepared, do our best every time, work hard until the game is over, and start it over again, preparing myself. It’s not only about soccer. It’s a key to success in life. There were many good things that I learned here in the program.”

What’s Next?
“I’m still thinking about trying out for professional teams, but at the same time, I’m working on job-hunting. Maybe I’ll go back to Japan and work for a Japanese company, but I want to work internationally, like in global business. I can work for a Japanese company, but I want to work in another country, or somehow use my skills in the language and my experience in foreign countries.”

Ed Brand
Position: Defender
Hometown: London, England
Major: Journalism
Expected Graduation Date: May, 2009

Spartan Memories
“A memory that always of course springs to mind, is 2005, when we beat New Mexico in New Mexico, 3-2 (in overtime on October 16, 2005). That was a great game, with four or five thousand people watching as well. It was a special memory. And I think, a lasting memory is just being captain of the side. In the spring of my freshman year in 2006, I was asked to be captain. It is an honor that I have had, and I’ve been really proud to represent the boys over the last three or four years. It’s just going to be a sad day when it’s my last day. I can’t believe it’s over already.”

The San Jose State Experience
“Just, the whole experience, really, especially being an international citizen and living in California for four years. Having an opportunity to play soccer and get an education is obviously going to be something I am going to remember forever, and something I’m going to tell my children and grandchildren about in the distant future. It’s been a really special experience and I’ve been very fortunate guy to be given the opportunity.”

What’s Next?
“That’s the million-dollar question. Obviously, I’m going to look to graduate, and then see what options there are to play. I still feel I’m good enough to be a professional somewhere. I’ve got contacts back in England. I’ve got contacts here. We’ll just see what happens, but first and foremost, getting a degree is the most important thing.”

Richard Mann
Position: Goalkeeper
Hometown: San Jose, Calif.
Major: Communication Studies
Minor: Business
Expected Graduation Date: May, 2009

Spartan Memories
“Beating New Mexico, at New Mexico, when they were number-two in the nation and undefeated (played all 98 minutes in goal), that’s for sure my number-one memory. My number-two memory was actually this year, at Denver (October 31). That was just my second game (this year), and I had 11 saves. I didn’t even know how many saves I had until that night. I went on-line, checked it out and it was like, Oh wow, 11 saves.’ That was, again, I felt like I helped my team. It’s good that my playing helped to not lose a game (in a 3-3 draw). That was awesome, I felt. I loved that.”

The San Jose State Experience
“I learned a lot about myself here, growing not just as a soccer player but as a person. You meet a lot of people. You take away the experience of getting older and going through different phases in your life, not just in soccer but in school as a student-athlete.”

What’s Next?
“Next for me, go to school. I’m trying to go to law school, so hopefully, I’ll take a year off, study for the LSAT, then go to school.”

Sam Shore
Position: Defender
Hometown: Sydney, Australia
Major: Business Administration
Expected Graduation Date: May, 2009

Spartan Memories
“There’s really no specific ones I can think of, but generally, just sort of the camaraderie with all of the guys, especially on trips. You find out stuff that you never really knew about the other guys when you go on the trips. If I had to think of one in particular, I guess my first trip, which was sort of a baptism of fire, down to New Mexico (on October 6, 2006), and we got fairly hammered there (2-0), so that was a lasting memory. You learn stuff from times like that. I think that was one of the times I learned the most.”

The San Jose State Experience
“It’s been great. It’s quite difficult, sometimes, to juggle your time evenly between the two (school and soccer). I think I’ve managed to do it alright. It teaches you. Sometimes, you get back from trips, and it’s 10 o’clock at night. You got an assignment due the next day, and you have to work really hard over the whole night. It really puts you in good stead if you’re going to be working, which, I think we all hope we are going to get a good job, so it really conditions you for that kind of stuff.”

What’s’ Next?
“Well, I think I will be moving back to Australia, hopefully to see if I can play some more soccer. I’ll try to play at the highest level I can. After that, I guess I’ll try to get a real job. My parents live in London, so it may lead me over there, but for the moment, probably moving back to Sydney.”

Lewis Sweeney
Position: Goalkeeper
Hometown: San Leandro, Calif.
Major: Justice Studies
Expected Graduation Date: May, 2009

Spartan Memories
“That’s tough to say. For me as a player on a team, I think a lot of the memories come with the road trips. It’s the camaraderie and the fun that you get to have with the guys on the road trips and things like that. For me, personally, probably getting the MPSF Player of the Week last year (on October 1, 2007), because that was my first season playing at San Jose State. Then this year, just beating New Mexico on Sunday (November 9), that was something I really, really wanted to do. I never got a chance while I was here, to beat Denver. The best we did was we tied them, but New Mexico blasted us last year, both times, and we were able to beat them this year. That was really a goal of mine last year after those games when we lost to them very badly, was to beat them (this season). We did it, pretty convincingly, at least as far as I’m concerned.”

The San Jose State Experience
“It’s really been great. Honestly, it’s a lot of hard work. It’s really difficult sometimes, managing your time, being able to be a student and being an athlete at the same time, because we travel a lot. Practice takes up a lot of your time, midterms, essays. It’s really been great though. I’ve learned a lot. I think it’s helped me mature and grow up, realize that later in the real world when I get a job, I’ll be able to manage my time better. It’s just been a great experience. I’ve really enjoyed it.”

What’s Next?
“Well, pretty much after I graduate, I’m just going to try to play soccer for as long as I can, at the highest level I possibly can. Whether that means in the United States, or outside the United States and going abroad, (we’ll see), but I’m just going to try and keep playing for as long as I can, and then see where life takes. I’ll obviously have my degree, and maybe go back to graduate school or get a job.”

Gavin Wenyon
Position: Defender
Hometown: Foster City, Calif.
Major: Business Administration
Expected Graduation Date: May, 2009

Spartan Memories
“Obviously, the Stanford game was a pretty good memory (when he scored the game-winning goal with eight seconds left in regulation on his 21st birthday on September 8, 2006), the New Mexico game (the 2005 road upset), pretty much all of 2005 was a good experience for me, because it was my first year (after redshirting as a true freshman in 2004) traveling and playing in all of the different atmospheres.”

The San Jose State Experience (Playing in all but two matches over the past four seasons)
“It was a good experience. I’ve struggled every year with a different injury, but nothing too serious, which I was thankful for. It’s always pretty hard to play that many games, consecutively. It takes a toll on your body. You always have to be prepared as well. It was just a great experience to play that many games for San Jose State, and for Gary (head coach Gary St. Clair). You learn a lot.”

What’s Next?
“I’m going to travel a little bit, and hopefully end up in England. I have dual citizenship, so I can hopefully find a job or try to play over there.”

2008-09 Friday Features
September 19 - David Richmond, Football
September 26 - Yonus Davis, Football
October 3 - Hiroki Akiyama, Men's Soccer
October 10 - Homecoming Spartan Style

October 17-  Jessica Ingram, Women's Soccer

October 24 - Coye Francies, Football

October 31 - David Haefele, Men's Cross Country

November 7 - Travis Jones, Football

November 14 - Men's Soccer Seniors