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Jess, She Can

Jan. 31, 2011

By Jon Cooper

Sting Daily

Jessica Weaver finds a way to get things done.

This particular morning last week at the A.A. building was an excellent example.

While it didn’t appear to be the best time to chat, the senior catcher found a way to sneak time in.

Perhaps that shouldn’t be such a surprise — she is graduating in May with a Management degree, after all.

Turns out, this particular morning, by 11:00, she’d already worked out, showered, and gone to class before stopping by to chat. Then it would be on to a myriad of activities prior to afternoon practice.

“It’s non-stop, for sure,” she said as she discarded her coat and book bag and took a much-welcomed seat. Not that she would have traded the laundry list of activities for anything or won’t miss it when it’s gone.

But that’s down the road.

That road is one Weaver hopes is long and includes a stop in Oklahoma City before she goes back to Cartersville joins with her dad, eventually taking over Weaver Heating and Air.

“He’s going to retire and I’m going to take over the family business,” said the Cartersville, Ga., native. “My dad’s owned the company for like 35 years now. So it’s been a great success and I just want to continue that.”

First, however, there is a little unfinished business called the 2011 Softball season. The Yellow Jackets were a unanimous pick by conference coaches to win a third straight ACC Championship. Weaver — as does the team, obviously — agrees with that assessment and plans to be a part of the continued run of excellence, however she needed.

“That’s great to know that they think that highly of us. That’s definitely one our goals, to three-peat the ACC Championship,” said Weaver. “But in order to reach those goals we have to make sure we do the little things every day and work on practicing to perfection, striving for those goals and know those goals every single day and know that we have to do the dirty work, I guess you could say, in practice so it comes naturally in the game. If we do that I think we’ll have a great season.”

Weaver knows about doing the dirty work. She also knows about being prepared to do things at a moment’s notice. Those are things that come as naturally as putting on the uniform, spikes and catcher’s equipment.

Jessica Weaver has been hard working and enthusiastic her entire career,” said Head Coach Sharon Perkins. “Whether it’s working with the pitchers in the bullpen, catching in a game or coming into the game to pinch hit, she’s ready and willing to do so.”

Weaver is always in the game, constantly scouring the action, keeping an especially close eye on the pitchers.

She relishes acting as a kind of pitching coach on the bench, banking the knowledge that’s picked up by catching each of the pitchers in bullpens, paying attention in practice and drawing on her own experiences.

“I actually pitched from the time I was 12 until my senior year in high school,” said Weaver, who was First-Team All-County all four years at Woodland High School. “I pitched and I caught. So just my knowledge from that and then of course, every bullpen that we have with [PItching Coach] Shaina [Ervin], knowing the pitchers’ tendencies, just listening to what Shaina has to say, I can be that little reminder during the game or in the game, whenever.

“I may not be catching, but from the dugout I can kind of give them a little reminder. So I think it’s very important to pay attention to the little details during the practices to help them perform because, obviously, the pitching coach can’t go out there on the mound every single time that there’s a problem. Knowing their little nicks and knacks helps us on the field as well.”

The Jackets were pretty good when Weaver was on the field, as last season they rang up a 22-3 mark in games she caught, and an extra 1-0 with her as DH. But she believes that her biggest contributions may actually away from the game.

“We have a bunch of examples that lead on our team as far as on the field,” she said. “Just being a positive role model off the field is important as well. Making sure that they realize that school is important and that grades are what get you out on the field.”

While Weaver recognizes where her strengths lie as a team leader, that doesn’t mean she’s conceding playing time. She is still very much a competitor.

“This year, my goals are to be competitive as far as playing,” she said. “Kate and I share a position back there behind the plate, but if we’re both hitting, hopefully, we’re both in the lineup.

“I have a lot of offensive goals as far as being consistent and just being a gap-to-gap hitter,” she continued. “Doing whatever I can to make the team better and be successful and make it to the World Series and not just Regionals or Super Regionals. Just being open-minded and reacting in a positive manner to the adversity that comes.”

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