Webster University freshman Jeff Wallner grew up watching Jeff Reis play sports at Webster. Reis, who is Wallner’s father’s godson, not only played both soccer and basketball at Webster, but he is also a member of the Webster University Athletics Hall of Fame.
Reis was a St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Player of the Year in both soccer and basketball. Reis also won conference championships in both sports his senior year. Like his childhood hero, Wallner wants to significantly contribute to Webster’s men’s soccer team and men’s basketball team.
“Next year, I need to be an impact player out there, just rather than kind of out there just doing my job,” Wallner said. “I want to go above and beyond and really create things that say just the mediocre or normal player would do.”
A playmaker on the field and court
Wallner is a two-sport athlete at Webster who attended Eureka High School. Men’s soccer assistant coach Michael Siener said Wallner’s skills on the court help him on the field.
“I think his awareness and ability to read the play helps him,” Siener said. “I think playing basketball helps him.”
Wallner said in any position on the soccer field, a player has to see the open lane to make the pass or read the play. He thinks being a point guard helps him do just that.
Wallner is a point guard on the men’s basketball team, but on the soccer team he takes on a different role, as he plays left defense. Wallner started 16 games as a freshman for the Gorloks, even though he never had any previous experience playing defense.
“I played left defense this year for the first time,” Wallner said. “I’ve never played defense in my life.”
Siener thinks Wallner is one of the top 11 players on the soccer team. Regarding Wallner’s lack of defensive experience Seiner said: “He handled himself very well. He played extremely good.”
Wallner’s future as a soccer player
Longtime friend and Webster men’s soccer fresman goalie Brian Woodward sees Jeff being a leader for the team in the near future.
“I would think he’d be like a senior captain our years,” Woodward said. “He played almost every minute of every game unless he was hurt and just led by example — kind of got the job done.”
Woodward isn’t the only Gorlok thinking about the future. Wallner is excited about his freshman class of players on the soccer team. He says there is a solid group of players that would be together long enough to get to the SLIAC tournament every year and do some damage.
The soccer staff has high hopes for Wallner. The coaches like how composed he is on the field, but would like to see him be more assertive. They believe the skill set is there for Wallner to be an exceptional player.
“I would hope he’d develop into a multi-year all conference player,” Siener said. “He has the tools to do so. I think that’s what we have envisioned for him here at Webster.”