Stan Weber thought he was getting pranked.
On the very day the former Kansas State football player and current radio analyst prepared to send a check to his alma mater that would cover fall tuition for his youngest daughter and youngest son, both of them called to say his money was no longer required.
McKenzi Weber, a senior defensive specialist with the K-State volleyball team, shared the news first. She was getting an athletic scholarship. After playing as a member of K-State’s club team and then as a walk-on for coach Suzie Fritz, she had arrived as a full-fledged Big 12 athlete.
Dad could barely contain his excitement and began bragging to his co-workers. Then, when he finally calmed down, he got another call. This time, Landry Weber, a sophomore receiver with the K-State football team, was on the phone. He had similar news. Turns out he impressed coach Chris Klieman enough during preseason camp to earn a scholarship of his own.
“Landry doesn’t call that often. I just hoped his car didn’t break down,” Stan Weber said. “So when he told me he was on scholarship literally less than an hour after I found out about McKenzi, I said, ‘There is no way. You have got to be punking me. Where are the cameras? What show am I on?’”
In retrospect, the news shouldn’t have come as that much of a shock.
Few, if any, families have more passion for K-State athletics than the Webers. Landry, the youngest of the bunch, is the sixth member of his immediate family to enroll at K-State, the fifth to play a sport for the Wildcats and the third to suit up for the football team.
Stanton Weber, now a quality control coach with the Wildcats, started out as a walk-on receiver under Bill Snyder and left as a scholarship athlete and captain. McKenzi and Landry simply followed in his footsteps.
“I love competing and I love Kansas State,” McKenzi Weber said. “I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else or spend my day doing anything else other than playing volleyball here. I was already savoring my senior year. Getting a scholarship was just icing on the cake.”
“Getting to walk on here was amazing in the first place,” added Landry Weber. “I just needed a ticket to get here, any opportunity I could have. Getting a scholarship was just one of those milestones and a great accomplishment. I wasn’t expecting it to happen this soon.”
The day started out normal enough. It was the last Friday before the start of fall classes in August, and the Weber siblings were going through their daily routines.
McKenzi worked on volleyball drills and Landry went to football practice. Neither one of them expected big news was on the way.
But that changed when Fritz called McKenzi into her office for a meeting right before lunch. They began a casual conversation and Fritz asked her some typical volleyball questions until the meeting seemed to come to a natural end. Then, out of nowhere, she surprised McKenzi with a scholarship.
McKenzi was stunned. She can’t remember the exact words she told her coach in that moment, but she definitely asked for a hug.
“I wasn’t working hard everyday for a scholarship. It just happened,” McKenzi said. “Everyone likes to be recognized for their hard work and it feels great to know I can help my parents financially and represent K-State in a new way.”
When McKenzi left her meeting, she called her father and sent a text message to her brothers. Landry was across campus at the football complex when he checked his phone. He was thrilled for her and began spreading the news to his teammates.
Little did he know he was about to receive a similar surprise.
A few minutes after Landry heard from his sister, Klieman summoned Landry into his office for a team meeting. Landry didn’t know what his coach wanted to talk about, but he wasn’t expecting anything big, especially when the Klieman started by asking him about the practice structure they used earlier that day.
“He was trying to throw me off the scent,” Landry said. “But he turned it and said I have been doing great, been working really hard, noticed my improvement over the spring and then just told me that he was going to put me on scholarship.”
It was an easy decision for Klieman.
“I love watching him compete on a daily basis,” Klieman said. “It doesn’t matter if it is a Monday in April or a Tuesday in August, the kid comes to work every day. He doesn’t have bad days. He stacks good days on top of good days, and he is always a guy you recognize. He is a phenomenal special teams player that takes a lot of pride ... When you can have that kind of contribution, you are going to deserve a scholarship.”
Just like his sister, Landry called his dad right after he heard the news.
Alas, this conversation took much longer because Stan thought he was joking around. Landry’s scholarship promotion was easier for everyone to comprehend when the Wildcats took the field against Nicholls last week and Landry was one of the three starting receivers.
But, on this day, it seemed like too much.
Landry is proud of his rise up the depth chart, but he wasn’t sure who else to tell about his scholarship news. So he stayed quiet the rest of the day. He never even told McKenzi.
She found out the next morning from a family friend.
“I felt like I was stealing her thunder,” Landry said. “I didn’t even tell her. I wanted her to have her day. She deserved it. But it was a great day for the family.”
Hard work pays off
When it comes to sports, Stan likes to joke that genes are the only thing holding his children back.
He was a starting quarterback under Jim Dickey in the 1980s and his wife, Nancy, ran track for one year at K-State. They passed down many quality traits to their children, but pro-level athleticism wasn’t one of them.
So, one after another, they helped Bishop Miege win state championships (12 in all) and arrived at K-State as walk-ons. But they worked hard enough to leave as scholarship athletes.
What common denominator do they share?
“I think it is just our work ethic and our ability to see the bigger picture,” McKenzi said. “We are here everyday to sacrifice and help the team win, because we love to compete, we hate to lose and we love K-State so deeply.”
It will be interesting to watch the Weber siblings from here. This is McKenzi’s final season with the volleyball team, but Landry has three left on the football field.
Perhaps he can surpass his father’s accomplishments by the time his college career is over.
Anything seems possible. From here on out, nothing they do will feel like a prank.