Weiss carries on family tradition

When Kyle Weiss steps on the playing field, he represents more than Wesleyan University.

He also represents a rich and passionate family tradition of participating in athletics.

His father David played football, lacrosse and baseball at Tufts University where Kyle's grandfather Bob also played football.

His great grandfather Izzy Weiss, considered the best athlete in the family, had a chance at a professional baseball career as a pitcher ended by an injury.

Football game days are like a family reunion.

His parents - David and Sherrie of Niantic - and grandparents - Bob and Patricia of Waterford - arrive early to set up the tailgate area for both home and road games. His grandfather calls Kyle before and after every game to offer advice.

"They haven't missed a game," Kyle said. "They love it. It's the best thing ever. The support I've gotten from my family has been incredible."

Kyle is making his own mark, adding to the family legacy. A junior, he's the starting punter and is ranked first in the New England Small College Athletic Conference in yards per kick at 37.4 per game. He also has a team-leading 20 receptions for the improved Cardinals (4-2 overall and in the conference).

On the baseball diamond, he's the starting center fielder and leadoff hitter, earning the most improved award last spring after batting .341 with 16 RBI and a team-best 37 walks while starting 35 of 36 games.

Coming out of East Lyme High School, Kyle wanted to continue the family tradition of playing two sports on the collegiate level.

"From the get-go, I could never see myself stopping one (sport) or the other," Kyle said. "As long as I had the opportunity, I was going to do that."

Prior to his sophomore year, Kyle had his doubts about his decision. He had seen limited action on the baseball team and had yet to become a regular for the football program.

David set his son on the right path. He told him: "You need to play two sports. Your grandfather did it. I did it. My brother did it at Princeton. We're all cut from the same cloth. It keeps you focused.

" When I was in college, the times my grades slipped a little bit was when I didn't play two sports. I told him, 'You don't want to waste these opportunities to play college sports.' College is about leaving your mark whatever you do."

Kyle is also thriving in the classroom, posting around a 3.2 grade-point average. He's getting deeper into his major - environmental science - and planning to head out west to pursue a career following graduation. He's considering attending graduate school for marine biology. He's a country boy at heart, and loves to fish.

But he's in no hurry to leave Wesleyan.

"It's been great," Kyle said.

His father and grandfather are fine with Kyle attending Wesleyan and bypassing their alma mater. Kyle never warmed up to Tufts and the coaches there showed little interest in him.

David only wishes that Wesleyan played Tufts in football more than two times in Kyle's career. He's happy that Kyle is playing close to home.

"It's all good," David said. "My father and I had our experience. We're happy that Kyle is having his fun."

The Weiss family will be back tailgating Saturday when Wesleyan visits Williams College.

David is proud of what his son has accomplished so far.

"Everybody, in their own way, got enjoyment out of the game and left their mark on it," David said. "We hope that's what Kyle will do and we think he's doing it."

g.keefe@theday.com

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