Jon Stewart, College Soccer Player, Once Led William & Mary To An Upset Win Over UConn
This is amazing. We knew Jon Stewart was a big Mets fan (probably his only known weakness), but we had no idea he was something of an athlete himself. The Daily Show anchor, formerly known as Jon Stuart Leibowitz, had a fairly decent soccer career at William & Mary in Virginia. OZY has details of his rise from the JV team to a senior star known as "Leibo":
William & Mary’s nationally recognized soccer program under head coach Al Albert caught Stewart’s eye as a freshman in 1980. Hoping to join the varsity squad, a bushy-haired Stewart walked into Albert’s office. “Coach thanked me for my offer and gently explained the team was well stocked,” Stewart wrote in the foreword to Albert’s book on the men’s soccer team, but “he would be tracking my progress with their vaunted JV program, which turned out to be not so much a program as a sign-up sheet in a Greek kid’s dorm room.”
But Stewart worked very hard when it came to soccer, often practicing late at night to hone his skills, and moved up from JV to varsity as a walk-on during his sophomore year. “Don’t listen to his jokes about himself. Jon was a good player,” Coach Albert has said. “Jon was very feisty as a player — very high-energy sort of guy.”
In three years, he racked up a total of 10 goals and 12 assists, including scoring the winning goal as a senior in a 1-0 victory over the University of Connecticut in the 1983 ECAC tournament championship, helping the Tribe earn an NCAA berth. Before a series of knee injuries put an end to his playing days, Stewart also played on the silver-medal-winning USA team at the Pan American Maccabi Games in Brazil in 1983 — a qualifying tournament for the World Maccabiah Games, a kind of Jewish Olympics.
Indeed, Stewart's best game might have been that win over UConn. According to this article from The Courant, "Stewart" (as we now know him) scored in the first two minutes, and his side held on for the 1-0 win. There's a quote from him in there saying to beat Connecticut on their home turf "is the kind of thing you dream about."
Perhaps the best part of this story is that you can see the beginnings of Jon Stewart, the acerbic comedian, inside of Jon Leibowitz, the soccer player. Our favorite quote (emphasis ours):
Stewart also relied on humor to defang any anti-Semitic remarks or other barbs he encountered on the field. Once, when an opposing player made a joke about the size of his nose, Stewart responded, to the amusement of everyone within earshot, that size had never really been a problem for him. Stewart’s charm, says one former teammate, also made him “very popular with the girls.”
Bam. That's how you do it. Go Jon. Don't retire.
By the way, here are Jon's 17 best sports-related rants.
Photo via OZY
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