By Brandon Fuhs
Picking up a ball for the first time at age nine and being able to play at the same level as others who have been playing since they were four is an accomplishment in and of itself. Surpassing those other players, despite starting at such a late age, is something even more spectacular. Amanda Weis has accomplished this.
Weis began playing softball when her parents signed her up in third grade, and it’s fair to say her parents chose wisely. Her father Dan Weis recalls how she excelled as soon as she started playing.
“She made the All-Star team when she was nine, and as she improved throughout the season, I noticed her skills were higher than the other girls,” said Dan Weis. “That’s when we decided she should be playing more competitively, so she started travel ball.”
Travel teams are the most competitive teams in the nation outside of high school sports. It’s the best way to gain acknowledgement from college scouts, and starting travel ball at an early age can have benefits.
“Unfortunately, there’s a lot of politics in travel ball,” Dan Weis said. “The coaches’ kid is on the team, and the kid’s friends are on the team as well, but others have to earn their spot on the team. Amanda always had to prove herself to everyone she played with to earn her spot.”
Weis thrived in travel ball and in high school ball, putting up high numbers and breaking some records in the process.
“She made first team all-county as a senior, she holds the record for most home runs in a season for the county and the most career home runs at Redlands High School, and she batted .671 during a season with the Batbusters,” Dan Weis said.
Her motivation came from many sources, but they all center around one mindset. Weis idolizes Crystl Bustos, a two-time Olympic gold medalist in softball, because she believes Bustos never stops playing and trying to improve. She was forced to keep that mentality throughout her travel ball years because of the treatment she got from coaches.
“I’ve had coaches I’ve played for put me down a lot and tell me I couldn’t do it,” said Weis. “They told me college ball was not in my sight, so proving them wrong by being here and working hard to get here makes it that much better.”
Nonetheless, she received offers from numerous colleges including Michigan, Arizona and Texas Tech, but her visit to Nevada made her decision clear. Softball was an important part in her decision on where to go, but Nevada provided an opportunity for her that other schools did not.
“When she came to visit the school, it was the first school that asked her what she wanted to major in rather than telling her what is available to players,” Dan Weis said.
Her father stressed that her main purpose in college is to get the degree, and she understood that. She picked Nevada because of the academic freedom and availability. Weis was also impressed with the coaching staff when she came to visit, and her dad mentioned assistant coach Andy Dominique was a smart hitting coach.
The coaches were just as impressed with Weis during the camp, where she hit three home runs in three at-bats the first day, and two home runs the next day.
“The coach told me he had not heard about Amanda, but after the camp she was the top prospect,” Dan Weis said.
This season Weis is leading the team with six home runs and 19 RBIs, and is third on the team with a .339 batting average. She went 4-for-9 this weekend in the Nevada Classic, and has been a run producer for Nevada all year.
“Amanda has done a great job this year,” said head coach Matt Meuchel. “She’s been such a big bat for us, there’s no question her power is intangible. She’s been consistent from week one, and that’s been the best thing for us.”
The environment on this softball team is different from Weis’s travel teams. It’s not the hostile environment with critical coaches, but Weis keeps the same mentality she has had her whole career.
“Last year we were projected to get last, and this year we’re projected to get somewhere in the middle of the pack,” Weis said. “We’ve proven so many assumptions about us wrong already, so the mentality right now is to just keep going.”
Brandon Fuhs can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.