|| Immersed in America: English citizen Weaver considers US home
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ROCK ISLAND -- Phil Weaver describes his hometown of Birmingham, England, as "multicultural and industrial" -- not unlike the Quad-Cities.
Mr. Weaver, a Q-C resident since 1995, sees definite similarities in his native and adoptive lands. The connections extend beyond culture and employment.
"Moving to the Midwest, (I found) the kind of people that I grew up with," Mr. Weaver said. "Very friendly, quick to help. I was fortunate that when I landed my first college job I made some good friends very quickly and friends who put me on the right path."
Born and raised in England's second-largest city, Mr. Weaver first entered the United States in 1981 with a group of college friends. They settled in Atlanta and remained there three months before returning to England.
"At that stage I had no ambitions of staying in the United States," Mr. Weaver said.
After seven more years in England, his desires changed. He emigrated in 1988 for several reasons, he said. "Some were personal and some were just a challenge."
Once in the U.S. he settled in Adrian, Mich., where a friend got him a job as the men's and women's soccer coach at what then was known as Siena Heights College. Then in his early 30s, he said he knew he would stay in his new country for a long time and assimilated with the American culture through soccer.
During his tenure at Siena Heights, he traveled to the Quad-Cities for a soccer tournament in 1989. Despite a short stay, Mr. Weaver found a connection and met friends who remained in constant contact. He came back every summer as a guest instructor at local soccer camps.
In 1995, he went from visitor to resident.
Jose Diaz, a former United Township High School soccer coach and director of the East Moline-Silvis Soccer Club, convinced Mr. Weaver to move to the Quad-Cities. Within a year, he became the head coach at Geneseo High School and met his wife, Ellen.
After getting married, the couple decided to stay in the area and live in Rock Island. Mr. Weaver's impressions on his new home were positive.
"Although it wasn't what I was used to in my earlier life, there was certainly a lot more to do here," Mr. Weaver said. "Certainly a faster pace. And you could escape. There's a little more city-type life (like) I was used to."
Seventeen years later, he remains.
"I feel immersed in American life," Mr. Weaver said. "Realistically, I'd probably call myself an American citizen."
He is not a naturalized citizen, but because he married an American, Mr. Weaver holds a permanent green card that must be updated every 10 years.
Mr. Weaver still has ties to England, even though he has not been home since 2005. His mother, Frances, still resides in his boyhood home. An older brother lives in the north of France.
"I'd always say that I'd consider dual-citizenship or even American citizenship when my mother passes," Mr. Weaver said.
Judging by his profession, he brings American and English culture together. Mr. Weaver has coached the UTHS boys' and girls' soccer programs the last 17 seasons, using a hybrid system that blends his native style with his adoptive one. During his tenure, the Panthers have had success on the field. He led the boys' program to the 1999 Class AA state title and coached the girls' team to its only sectional championship in 2002.
"I'm probably from one of the greatest soccer nations in the world," said Mr. Weaver, who also runs the East Moline-Silvis Soccer Club. "England is a football nation."
He describes soccer and the U.S. in the same way."A melting pot," he said. "Everything is fused together. It's a mix of everything."
Maybe that's why he has stayed in the U.S. for such a long time. Though still a citizen of England, he's very much American.
"I'd like to think I've started to immerse myself in American culture," he said. "The opportunities are here as long as you're open minded."
-- Location: Western Europe, islands -- including the northern one-sixth of the island of Ireland -- between the North Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea; northwest of France.
-- Population: 63,047,162 (July 2012 estimate). No. 22 in the world.
-- Languages: English. The following are recognized regional languages: Scots (about 30 percent of the population of Scotland), Scottish Gaelic (about 60,000 in Scotland), Welsh (about 20 percent of the population of Wales), Irish (about 10 percent of the population of Northern Ireland), Cornish (some 2,000 to 3,000 in Cornwall).
Source: CIA World Factbook.