Patrick McSheehy said sports surrounded his life since high school, and without soccer he would have no reason to even attend college. He estimates that he played four soccer games a week up until his marriage in 2011. At age 34 and with a month old daughter, McSheehy thought his dedication to soccer would decline further.
McSheehy begins training camp with the St. Louis Ambush of the Major Indoor Soccer League (MISL) in October. He was signed out of an open tryout held by the Ambush who want to fill the team with local talent.
He spent five years at Webster University between 1997 and 2002 playing both baseball and soccer. Soccer took precedence.
He left Webster’s soccer program with four St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, All-Conference awards. McSheehy was a part of the 1999 and 2000 men’s soccer teams that earned Webster’s first appearances in the NCAA D-III National Championship Tournament. In 2010 he was part of the first class inducted into the Gorlok Hall of Fame.
“We as an athletic department became more of an identity rather than just a club,” McSheehy said. “The stuff we did back then probably set some of the ground work for the other guys.”
McSheehy has a chance to set another standard, this time at the professional level with the Ambush.
This is St. Louis’ second try at hosting the Ambush. They first relocated to St. Louis from Tulsa, Okla., in 1992 after the folding of the National Professional Soccer League. The team lasted until 2000 playing at the Kiel Center, which is now the Scottrade Center. After the 2000 season the lease with the Kiel Center was terminated after an 11-33 season, the worst in team history.
St. Louis has also been home to other professional indoor soccer teams. The Steamers have spent more time in St. Louis than any other indoor soccer team. It is the only indoor soccer team to play in St. Louis for more than nine years. The Steamers lasted from 1979 to 1988 in the MISL, then again from 2000 to 2006.
In July the Ambush announced they would hold a two day open tryout at Vetta Sports in St. Charles, Mo., on Aug. 3 and 4.
“I wanted to tryout from the beginning,” McSheehy said. “But my wife isn’t a big athlete or sports person to start with and she was pregnant.”
The McSheehy family was expecting their first child, who is now two months old. He was talking about the tryouts with friends and teammates of his, but he said he always found an excuse to not sign up. McSheehy’s wife was at work at The Boeing Company the day before the tryouts began. She paid the $100 tryout fee and registered her husband.
“It was a surprise,” McSheehy said. “But at the same time, my wife knows me and what my passions are. So I think I married the right woman.”
McSheehy said during the 2013-2014 season when he isn’t practicing he will be a stay at home dad and put his home remodeling business on hold.
Through connections McSheehy made in college soccer, he has been able to play in leagues around St. Louis to keep soccer in his life. Most prominently, he played on Kutis Funeral Home men’s team. McSheehy said if you have been around the St. Louis soccer scene long enough you would recognize that team and leagues like the Mexican League in downtown St. Louis, which he also played in.
“Unfortunately that is really the only place you can play from April to October every weekend,” McSheehy said. “Most teams only have 12-week schedules and sometimes the quality is not the best but at least you get out to play.”
McSheehy said he was often invited to play in local indoor soccer leagues. Once even on a professional level with the Illinois Piasa of the Professional Arena Soccer League
A friend of McSheehy’s that is currently trying out for goalie of the Ambush was the coach of the Piasa. McSheehy played the last portion of the 2011-12 season with Piasa and was paid about $50 for each game he played. His career record is 1-5 but in his only win he accounted for a goal and an assist in a 14-5 defeat of the Ohio Vortex.
Webster men’s soccer coach Michael Siener said he wasn’t surprised to hear McSheehy made the team. Siener has played with McSheehy since they were in high school at McClure North together and were reunited again at Webster.
“Every time I see him it will be at Soccer Park and he’s playing in some league out there,” Seiner said. “He is 34 years old and he’ll probably be doing that until he’s 50.”
McSheehy’s former Webster teammates talked about his newest opportunity with the Ambush at the Webster men’s soccer Alumni Game on Aug. 24. Siener said the main topic wasn’t soccer.
“We more talked about his baby and getting to that place in his life,” Siener said. “I’m getting married soon and thinking about family and that stuff since we are kind of in that same place in life.”
McSheehy turns 35 this year. He said he felt like a senior citizen when he showed up at the Ambush tryout. St. Louis Ambush head coach Daryl Doran was in the same situation towards the end of his 30- year indoor soccer career.
“I don’t see (his age) as a plus or a minus,” Doran said. “I was looking for guys who number one, play simple and play smart and I think he does both those things.”
McSheehy said his philosophy in soccer has always been to play that kind of simple game.
“Average might be the best way to describe it,” McSheehy said. “I always wanted to mark the best guy on the other side and just tried not to get beat.”
Doran had six or seven other coaches at the tryout to help find the top players. McSheehy was one of four players signed out of the tryout that attracted over 140 athletes.
Doran and Ambush majority owner Andrew Haines want their team to have as many local players on the roster as possible.
“As a team owner and business guy I want to have as many home grown guys as I can,” Haines said. “But we’ve got to be competitive, so that is the balance.”
Doran has more hometown playing experience than anyone. After playing at CBC High School in St. Louis, Mo., and Saint Louis University, he is the only person to either play or coach for every St. Louis affiliated professional indoor soccer team.
He said it is always great to have home grown talent, but winning is always the most important factor.
“I think it’s important for the home fans to see the neighborhood boys have a chance to be a professional soccer player,” Doran said. “And that’s the route I’m taking.”
McSheehy said he is excited to start training with the team under the leadership of Doran and Haines. They share the goal wanting to showcase St. Louis’s demand for professional soccer to eventually bring a Major League Soccer outdoor team.
“(Haines) is balls to the wall wanting to get things done,” McSheehy said. “They are everywhere around St. Louis and I could see him bringing eight to ten thousand people per game.”
The Ambush announced their home opener is on Nov. 22 at 7:35 P.M., at the Family Arena in St. Charles, Mo.
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