Nathaniel Lee, a senior on the Penn State men’s soccer team, will leave Sunday to play in the World Cup qualifiers for Guam’s national soccer team.
He spent the summer playing with his twin brothers for the Guam Football Association.
“It was the coolest thing I’ve ever done with soccer,” Lee said.
The Lee brothers inherited their Guam citizenship from their grandmother, who was born on the Pacific island. All three brothers will be in Guam until Oct. 14 for the qualifiers.
Penn State men’s soccer coach Bob Warming believes this is the first time in his recollection three brothers have represented one country together for a national soccer team.
Nate Lee was with Guam’s team when it participated in and won its first World Cup qualifier ever, beating Turkmenistan 1-0 on June 11. Although he was injured and unable to compete then, he said, “Seeing how excited the country was, was one of the best experiences of my entire life.”
Alexander and Justin Lee, 25-year-old twins, played soccer in college as well. Alex played at Maryland while Justin played at Penn State. Warming was Justin’s coach during his time with the Nittany Lions.
“There aren’t a whole lot of similarities besides the last name,” Warming said of the playing styles of the three brothers, even though all of them play defensive positions. Warming noted Nate is taller and longer than his brothers and left-footed, while the twins are right-footed.
The three brothers made their first two appearances on the national team together as starters.
It wasn’t until early in high school that Nate Lee realized he wanted to become a professional soccer player.
“I actually quit soccer (at the club level) in eighth grade, going into ninth grade,” he said.
He decided to return to club play the summer after his freshman year of high school. Lee credits Pete Mehlert, his coach at Bethesda SC in Rockville, Md., for the comeback. “He just believed in me,” Lee said. Mehlert had also coached Alex and Justin.
Warming has seen a difference in Lee’s play since his return from Guam. “He has a real energy for the sport right now,” Warming said.
Lee said he believes he brought back more focus and motivation. He also feels a sense of esponsibility as a leader as a senior and as someone with international experience.
After graduating, Lee said he may return to school to take science classes with the hope of becoming a dentist like his father, Henry.
Until then, he is focusing on his final season, with the goal of playing professionally somewhere in Asia. Lee said he is keeping his options open because Guam’s team can only pay a few players since its league is still a work in progress.
“To represent a nation as a family is amazing,” said Warming. “I think everybody should be rooting for this guy.”